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Examining the role of defendant attractiveness on juror decisions for crimes relating to stalking, burglary and murder

Cannon, Amy (2012) Examining the role of defendant attractiveness on juror decisions for crimes relating to stalking, burglary and murder. Loughborough University.

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Abstract

Given previous research which has demonstrated an ‘attractive bias’ on juror decisions for crimes of burglary and murder, the current study aimed to extend upon this knowledge by examining the role of offender attractiveness on ‘mock juror’ decisions, for stalking crimes, in comparison to both burglary and murder (whilst controlling for mock juror self-esteem, age and gender). A 2x3 mixed factorial design was used; factor one, offender attractiveness (between subjects), consisted of two levels: attractive and unattractive; and factor two, crime type (within subjects), consisted of three levels: burglary, murder and stalking. A total of 80 participants (26 males, 54 females; aged between 18-66 years) were randomly assigned to take part in either the ‘attractive’ (13 males, 26 females) or ‘unattractive’ (13 males, 26 females) condition, where they were required to rate each crime on the four dependent measures (guiltiness, recommended sentence length, dangerousness, and susceptibility to rehabilitation). It was hypothesised that the attractive stalker would receive lighter sentences and lower ratings of guilt than the unattractive stalker; no specific hypotheses however, were made in relation to the other ratings (dangerousness and susceptibility to rehabilitation). The results revealed a significant effect for guilt ratings, for stalking crimes only; with the attractive stalker receiving lower ratings of guilt than the unattractive stalker. No other significant effects were observed across any of the crimes, for any of the dependent measures. Overall, due to successfully controlling for a number of potentially-related juror characteristics, including self-esteem, age and gender, it was concluded that the present findings may in fact provide a more accurate representation of the attractive bias, than has previously been demonstrated.

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