Malpractice Judgments: The Influence of Sadness and Anger on Blame and Punishment
Creators:Tompkins, Mary Kate
MetadataShow full item record
Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2011
When an unfavorable event occurs, people have a tendency to assign blame on personnel as opposed to the system in which the person is embedded. The tendency to blame accidents on human error and create human-focused remedies is problematic because it will not always prevent the adverse outcome from occurring. Some adverse outcomes, such as a death of a patient, may lead to malpractice lawsuits. In a malpractice trial, the prosecutor and defense can use sadness and anger to sway jurors in their favor. Previous research has demonstrated that these emotions have differential effects on judgments of causation and levels of compensation (Keltner, Ellsworth, & Edwards, 1993; Small & Lerner, 2008). The present study examined the effects of sadness and anger on attributions of causation and the assigned levels of punishment in a mock medical malpractice trial. Participants watched a video clip that elicited feelings of anger, sadness, or neutrality. Following the video primes, subjects read a malpractice scenario and answered questions regarding who or what was at fault for the death of a patient, and how much punishment that person or system should be given. Results indicated that overall, people were more likely to blame personnel for the death of the patient than systemic issues, with no main effect of emotion on causal attribution. In a comparison between sadness and neutral conditions, sad participants assigned significantly less punishment to personnel relative to neutral participants.
ASC Honors Undergraduate Research Grant for $4,000 from The Ohio State University
Items in Knowledge Bank are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.