No. XXIX-XXX (2008)

Influence of Penal Law on Moral Beliefs of the Society in the Light of Selected Empirical Research

Barbara Szamota-Saeki
The Maria Grzegorzewska University

Published 2008-04-01


  • penal law,
  • morality of society,
  • offence,
  • punishment,
  • empirical research

How to Cite

Szamota-Saeki, B. (2008). Influence of Penal Law on Moral Beliefs of the Society in the Light of Selected Empirical Research. Archives of Criminology, (XXIX-XXX), 203–214.


This text aims to highlight the impact of criminal law on the moral beliefs of society, which, although not directly or immediately, considerably affect public attitudes. In support of this view, the author cites the results of four studies by British and German researchers that answer the question of whether the knowledge or suggestions of other members of society influence people’s moral attitudes. Analysing the information obtained through experiments, the author explains the dependence of the change in moral attitudes under the influence of knowledge of the actual state of the law, but mainly under the influence of peers and other opinions. In conclusion, Barbara Szamota-Saeki also draws attention to the impact that changes leading to selected types of crimes being decriminalised or liberalised had on social morale, the impact that the severity of punishments had on the degree of social acceptance of these acts, and the state of social knowledge of criminal law in Poland and other countries. The article also stresses that the best way to study the impact of criminal law on social beliefs is through natural experiments, which will elucidate changes over the years.


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