Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Mark Fondacaro

Committee Members

Deborah Koetzle

Chongmin Na

William Heffernan

Christopher Slobogin

Subject Categories

Criminal Law | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Psychology


Dual process theory, Free will, Need for cognition, Punishment, Public health, Drug policy


A public health response to drug offenses has potential to improve both public safety and public health. However, the public’s desire for retribution represents a possible hindrance to reform. Relying on dual-process theory of moral decision-making, this dissertation examines agreement among laypeople about the relative blame deserved for various crime types, and probes several possible predictors of support—the need for cognition (“NFC”), intergroup bias, and free-will doubt—for retributive as well as consequentialist responses to crime. Findings from several web-based experiments show: (a) in comparison to core crimes (eg., murder) substantially less agreement about the relative blame deserved for noncore crimes (eg., drug offenses); (b) high NFC is associated with greater support for consequentialist responses to crime; and (c) free-will doubt is associated with less support for retribution, with blame mediating the relationship. Overall, it suggests high variability in decisions about noncore crimes, and possible ways to facilitate a switch in support from punishment to public health.