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Until relatively recently, social psychologists have given less attention to retributive justice than to other forms of justice, such as distributive and procedural justice. Although interest in retributive justice is increasing, the fact remains that social psychological research on retribution has tended to ignore, or at least downplay, the insights of sociologists in deference to an approach that examines how individuals respond to deviant acts. Without rejecting psycholgical analyses, this chpater draws attention to the social context and social consequences of retributive justice. Group dynamics are at play in a wide array of settings in which people respond to rule or norm violations, but in this essay I will draw primarily upon more than a quarter century of research, much of it previously unpublished, that examines community reactions to criminal events. However, at the end of the essay I argue that the issues raised by the research can and should be tested in more mundane settings in which rule violations occur.

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