Fear, anger and empathy: Exploring men’s and women’s emotional expressions and behaviour as mock parole board members

Mrs Shannon Dodd1
1University Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

The question of whether a relationship exists between gender and public attitudes toward criminal justice policies, and in particular parole, has been examined in earlier research. This research suggests that women are significantly less supportive than men of the supervised release of prisoners to the community. It is not clear, however, why men and women approach the issue of parole differently. Using in-depth interviews with a sample of Australian men and women, the current study explores the interplay between gender, emotion and emotion management. Findings suggest that feelings of fear, anger and empathy permeate parole decision-making, but in different ways for men and women. They also indicate that women, more so than men, manage their emotions to avoid suggestions their decision making was inappropriately biased by their feelings. Finally, contrary to feeling rules observed elsewhere, the analysis demonstrates that feelings of masculine empathy and maternal anger are commonly described by men and women when acting as mock parole board members.


Shannon Dodd is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Science, at the University of Queensland. Her dissertation focuses on gender differences in public attitudes toward parole and the role of emotions in shaping men’s and women’s criminal justice views.


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