Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jamie S. Martin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen Hanrahan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John Lewis, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Roberts

Fifth Advisor

Jennifer Roberts, Ph.D.


This study investigates the predictors of punitiveness among 519 undergraduate college students at one public university in the Northeast. Specifically, it compared levels of punitiveness among students majoring in criminology with students majoring in other academic disciplines. Due to the fact that criminology students may work as professionals within the criminal justice system after graduation, it is particularly important to assess their views towards the punishment of lawbreakers. The data collected in this study was guided by the current literature on punitiveness and student attitudes towards punishment. Using a stratified cluster sampling procedure, standardized surveys were distributed to students during January and February 2008. The data was then analyzed and discussed. The results from the current study indicate that criminology students held less punitive views towards offender than did students majoring in other academic disciplines. This was a particularly interesting finding which will be discussed in more detail in Chapters V and VI. In addition, the findings indicate that year in school is an important predictor of punitiveness, with seniors holding the least punitive views and freshman holding the most punitive views. Furthermore, political ideology and three causal attribution theories (classical, structural positivism, labeling) were found to significantly impact punitiveness.