Public Support for Solitary Confinement: A Randomized Experiment of Belief Updating and Confirmation Bias [2020]

This randomized control experiment investigates whether providing educational information about solitary confinement (SC) cause respondents to update their beliefs about the practice. It also examines whether prior views about punishment moderate the influence of the message content on changes in level of support for SC. Study participants were recruited from Amazon’s MTurk workplace to complete an on-line survey about their level of punitive orientation and support for SC. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions that provided differing messages about SC through brief, educational videos. Study results suggest participants who received information that SC is necessary for institutional order increased their support for the practice at post-test, while those who viewed information that SC is harmful to its inhabitants decreased their support for its use. This study did not find evidence that punitive orientation influenced the impact of the message received on changes in attitude toward SC.

Kayla J. LaBranche & Ryan M. Labrecque
Victims & Offenders: An International Journal of Evidence-based Research, Policy, and Practice, 27 Jul 2020