Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Kevin Carlsmith

Kevin Carlsmith

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Professor Kevin Carlsmith died from cancer on November 19, 2011, in his boyhood home in Portola Valley, California. Social Psychology Network is maintaining this profile for visitors who wish to learn more about Professor Carlsmith's work.

Please see below for more information:

My research examines theories of morality and justice in a social psychological context. I study how ordinary people perceive social transgressions, including their beliefs and intuitions about what the proper consequences should be for these transgressions. In conducting this research, I focus on the interaction between personal intuitions of justice and the formal codes of the individual's organization or society and the consequences that arise from a discrepancy between the two.

Current projects investigate whether people punish for the purpose of deterrence, or to give the perpetrator his or her "just deserts." Recent findings suggest that although people behave in line with a retributive or just deserts theory, they frequently justify their behavior on the grounds of deterrence. It appears that people are not aware of this discrepancy, and that this misunderstanding of their own motives can actually lead people to support laws that, when enacted, will be seen as deeply unjust.

Primary Interests:

  • Aggression, Conflict, Peace
  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Social Cognition

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Journal Articles:

Other Publications:

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Social Psychology
  • Introduction to Personality and Social Psychology
  • Just Punishment
  • Persuasion and Propaganda
  • Research Design and Statistics
  • Senior Seminar in Social Psychology

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