Publication Date

2016-12-03

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2018-12-03

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2016-09-13

First Committee Member

Debra Charles (Lieberman)

Second Committee Member

Tamara Rice Lave

Third Committee Member

Michael McCullough

Abstract

The provocation doctrine, which mitigates the punishment for killings made “in the heat of passion,” is a longstanding and often criticized area of United States law. At the crux of these criticisms is the doctrine’s imprecision: courts and lawmakers continue to struggle to both delineate specific standards for its application and to offer a satisfying rationale for its continued existence. Here, we use an evolutionary-computational model of anger and intimate partner violence to inform these problems. Using the archetypal case of provocation—a male discovering his partner’s infidelity—we surveyed 1,939 males to address and test two of the doctrine’s core assumptions: that a partner’s infidelity is an especially potent catalyst for male intimate partner violence, and that anger motivates people to act in ways that they do not perceive as justified while in a calmer state. Then, we test several predictions about the specific cognitive mechanisms underlying the actor’s behavior in the archetypal heat of passion case.

Keywords

law; emotion; anger; evolutionary psychology; moral decision making

Available for download on Monday, December 03, 2018

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