NSF Field Experiment

Randomized Field Experiment on Justice and Reconciliation in Colombia (2017)

During spring of 2017, I implemented a randomized experimental field survey in the northwestern Departments of Antioquia and Choco, Colombia. The survey assesses what citizens think about rights and remedies and the transformative potential of different types of justice. Using records from the National Center for Historical Memory, I created animated vignettes that tell the story of a former combatant facing justice for his involvement in a massacre. The perpetrator’s group affiliation is tailored to each respondent using a “least-liked” technology so each respondent responds to a conceptually equivalent and personally relevant experimental prompt. Respondents are randomly assigned retributive or restorative justice interventions, which complete the story of what happens to the perpetrator. Then, respondents are asked questions that identify and measure reconciliation, social cohesion and peace outcomes.

To view the animated vignette, go here: FARC experimental prompt

vignette stillframes.png

Justice Treatments

After hearing the prompt, respondents are randomly assigned one of five justice treatments. The justice treatments complete the story by describing what kind of justice is meted out to Carlos, the confessed war-criminal. The justice treatments can be arranged on a justice continuum from maximalist to minimalist approach to justice. The maximalist approach is typically associated with those who support human rights prosecutions and the criminal punishment of perpetrators. The minimalist approach is typically associated with those who support amnesties and truth. The justice treatments can also be categorized as retributive or restorative justice. T1 and T2, which emphasize that the perpetrator is punished, are mechanisms of retributive justice. T3, T4 and T5, which emphasize providing reparations and truth to victims and communities, are mechanisms of restorative justice.

justice continuum