Elite Versus Citizen Attitudes on Capital Punishment: Incongruity Between the Public and Policymakers

Document Type


Publication Date



The results of a survey of Tennessee legislators, prosecutors, and public defenders were compared to the results of a general citizen survey to analyze attitudes toward capital punishment in the two groups. The study is a replication of McGarrell and Sandys's study of Indiana legislators, which found some degree of pluralistic ignorance: both legislators and citizens had misperceptions of the other's attitudes. Results suggested that, similar to their Indiana counterparts, Tennessee legislators overestimate the degree of citizen support for the death penalty.