Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Valerian J. Derlega

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis

Committee Member

Louis H. Janda


HIV non-disclosure laws, which require people with HIV to disclose their HIV serostatus to potential sexual partners, are common in the U.S. This thesis applied philosophical theories of punishment to examine why people would punish these law violators. Specifically, retribution/just deserts (i.e., an eye for an eye) and deterrence (i.e., general crime prevention) were examined as punishment motivations. Additionally, offender apology was investigated as a potential moderator of the effects of retribution on punishment. A 2 (Just Deserts) X 2 (Deterrence) X 2 (Apology) ANOVA design was used with recommendations for a prison sentence and financial fine as the dependent measures (N = 233). There was strong support for retribution theory. Apology also moderated the effects of Just Deserts by reducing recommended prison sentences when more serious offenses were committed. There was no support for the use of Deterrence as a motivation for punishment. These findings strengthen the literature supporting the importance of retribution as a motivation for punishment and it documents the novel finding that offender apology moderates the effects of the retribution/just deserts manipulation on punishment recommendations.


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