Adult Perceptions of Adolescent Culpability: The effects of age and intent

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Rodger Narloch, Psychology


This project integrated existing research regarding the effects of intent on blameworthiness and the mitigation of age on culpability. The purpose of this research was to examine the effects of offender age and level of intent on adult perceptions of adolescent culpability. One-hundred sixty-five college students read five vignettes and assigned a culpability rating for the actor in each scenario and provided a brief explanation for each rating. The age of the principle actor and whether or not the act was premeditated or intentional varied across the five scenarios. There was a main effect for Intent such that participants assigned higher culpability ratings to actors who acted intentionally than those whom acted without intent. There was a main effect for Age such that higher culpability ratings were assigned to 19-year-old actors than both 16 and 14-year old actors. There was no interaction effect between Age and Intent.