The Stability of Criminal Justice Policy Views: Evaluating the Effects of Factual Corrections and Appeals to Social Identity

TitleThe Stability of Criminal Justice Policy Views: Evaluating the Effects of Factual Corrections and Appeals to Social Identity
Publication TypeUnpublished
AuthorsMummolo J, Esberg J, Westwood S
Abstract

Recent protests have brought criminal justice to the forefront of U.S. politics. Moving preferences on policies like mandatory minimums, however, remains a central challenge to widespread reform. Across six experiments (N > 11, 000), we show that changing criminal justice policy preferences remains difficult. A common explanation for widespread support for punitive policy is that most Americans believe crime is rising even during periods of decline. However, we find while the public is willing to accept factual corrections about crime rates, this never prompts reconsideration of policy opinions. Additional experiments deploying common persuasive designs show co-partisan elite cues have no effect, but individuals update their opinions when factual corrections are combined with forced consideration of opposition views or when pressured by in-group members. These interventions are cognitively burdensome, logistically challenging to scale and produce only small effects. Policy preferences are movable, but simple information treatments are ineffective, complicating criminal justice reform.

URLhttps://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/jmummolo/files/emw_2020_ms.pdf