Penal attitudes to punishment in Nordic countries (completed)

What is a fair sentence for robbing a store? Do Swedes and Norwegians differ in opinion as to what the punishment should be, and how severly robbing a store should be punished? Do the Courts ruling reflect peoples opinion regarding what is a suitable punishment?

Foto:Stock xchange

About the project

"Penal attitudes to punishment in Nordic countries" is a joint Nordic research project about peoples’ attitudes to punishment. The project is coordinated by associate professor Leif Petter Olaussen, Department of Criminology and Sociology of law, University of Oslo.


The main results from the national surveys and the research project will be completed in August of 2010. A written report will be completed by the Fall of 2010/ Spring of 2011.


The research project consists of two parts:  one with population surveys, and one with focus-group discussions.

Population survey:

A questionnaire with six criminal cases where respondents pass their “verdicts” was mailed to a random sample of the adult population.The purpose is to examine whether there exist differences in what is considered a ”suitable punishment”:

  • between different population groups in the respective countries.
  • in the general population and the punishment passed by the Courts.
  • between the people in the Nordic countries, or whether the differences between the respective countries have such minor variations that the Nordic countries might be seen as a whole in regards to penal attitudes to punishment.

Focus-groups discussions:

A film has been made of the court hearing of four of the six cases included in the questionnaire used in the population survey. In each country (except Finland) twelve different focus groups of 10 adults have seen these films and then discussed about one hour what kind of punishment the accused should be sentenced to. The discussions in the focus groups will be analyzed to gain more knowledge about how people reason when it comes to punishment.


"Penal attitudes to punishment in the Nordic countries" is funded by The Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology, and various national funding sources.


"Penal attitudes to punishment in the Nordic countries" is a collaboration project between researchers from the University of Oslo (Norway), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Iceland University, Stockholms University (Sweden) and the University of Helsinki (Finland).

Published June 14, 2010 10:42 AM - Last modified Oct. 18, 2013 12:50 PM