The concepts punitiveness and rehabilitation orientation in the general public are generally measured by rather broad attitude items that are not directly related to probation. In this study, two separate attitude scales were used that were tailor-made for the probation context and therefore have a high ecological validity. These ‘ecological scales’ were each analysed with the same predictor set. Cognitive emotive variables showed incremental prediction above demographics. Higher knowledge of probation and more satisfaction with society are related to a higher preference for rehabilitation. Less knowledge of probation and a higher feeling of victimization are related to a more punitive attitude.