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Punishment as Communication: Transgressors’ Interpretation and Understanding of Punishment

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "PUNISH" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 80539

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 87˙403 €
 EC max contribution 87˙403 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2018
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-07-01   to  2020-06-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Punishment is ubiquitous. We discipline children when they misbehave, and we demand even harsher sanctions for criminal offences. Punishment is thought to serve a communicative purpose: Through punishment, victims and third parties seek to send various “messages” to transgressors (e.g., condemning the wrongness of the act and imploring them to reform). But are these messages effectively delivered and understood by transgressors? And does the interpretation of a punitive message have the desired effects on the transgressor?

To answer these questions, this research examines (a) the types of messages transgressors receive through punishment (why they think they are being punished), and (b) transgressors’ reactions to them (e.g., perceived fairness, experienced remorse). Further, it explores (c) the features of a punitive message that influences how the message is interpreted by transgressors. The research will be built on a theoretical framework that integrates knowledge from three distinct fields: legal philosophy, social psychology, and behavioural economics. The specific hypotheses deducted from this framework will be tested in controlled experimental lab studies as well as in a court setting.

The insights from this research will be informative to all disciplines interested in criminal justice and punishment. First, this research will develop our theoretical understanding of punitive procedures and their effects. Second, it has important implications for how we should deliver punishment to enhance justice outcomes, whether in the context of formal legal proceedings or informal sanctions.

The quality of the research will be strengthened by access to exceptional research facilities and expertise at the host university, and interdisciplinary collaboration with scholars both within the university and beyond. Further, the expertise and methodological training acquired through the fellowship will significantly develop the researcher’s capacities and profile.

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The information about "PUNISH" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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