Moral Disengagement in Capital Trials: A Quantitative Analysis of Prosecutors' Closing Arguments
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Capital jurors often face a moral dilemma when sentencing a defendant to life or death. According to Albert Bandura’s theory of moral disengagement, individuals can behave in a manner contradictory to their moral standards by disengaging from self- regulatory processes through the use of eight mechanisms of moral disengagement. I assessed whether prosecutors engage these mechanisms in their closing arguments in capital cases to prompt jurors to sentence a defendant to death. I hypothesized that the more references to mechanisms of moral disengagement and the more references to different mechanisms ...