Complete Question Explanation
Strengthen Except—CE. The correct answer choice is (C)
This is a StrengthenX question, which indicates that the four incorrect answer choices will all strengthen
the argument and the correct answer choice will either have no effect or will weaken the argument.
The criminologist claims that the proposed action (increasing the current prison term) will not have the
desired effect (discouraging people from committing robbery). Thus, any answer choice that weakens
this causal relationship will support the criminologist. Answer choices (A), (B), (D), and (E) all weaken
the causal link between the length of a person’s prison term and his or her desire to commit robbery.
Only answer choice (C) does not weaken this causal relationship and is therefore the correct answer
Answer choice (A): Increasing the current prison term for robbery logically increases the risk to
criminals considering robbery. But if many people who rob are motivated by risk-taking, then increasing
the prison term would provide increased motivation and would not discourage people from committing
Answer choice (B): This analogous situation describes an instance in which the same proposed action
failed to have the desired effect. If this observation is true for embezzlement, the likelihood that it will
prove true for robbery is increased. This strengthens the argument that increasing the prison term for
robbery will not discourage people from committing robbery.
Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. Answer choice (C) describes a situation in
which the opposite of the proposed action occurs. But since no information is given about what effect
this alternate cause has, one cannot draw any conclusions from it. By itself, this information neither
supports nor refutes the criminologist’s claim. To strengthen the argument, decreasing the prison term
length would have to be causally linked to an increase in the number of people committing robberies,
however since no further information is given, this is the correct answer.
In StrengthenX or WeakenX questions, one can typically expect the correct answer choice to have no
effect on the argument. This is because the test makers want to limit the variance between the correct
answer choice and all of the incorrect answer choices. An answer choice that weakens an argument will
be significantly different from four answer choices than strengthen that argument and may be easier
to isolate than one that has no effect. That said, do not expect the correct answer choice to be utterly
irrelevant, either, as that, too, would be relatively easy to identify.
Answer choice (D): This answer choice supports the criminologist’s claim by providing additional
evidence that there is not a strong link between the crime and the punishment. If most people committing
robbery believe they will not get caught, then they will not be deterred by the knowledge that people
who do get caught must spend more time in prison.
Answer choice (E): Like the group of people described in answer choice (D), this group of people will
also not be deterred by the proposed action. If most criminals were unaware of the length of the prison
term for convicted robbers, then a longer prison term would not discourage them from committing a