Presentation on theme: "Female Mock Jurors and the Child Victim: An Assessment of Age and Sex as Factors in Trial Sentencing Theresa Bardy Amanda Dubs Beverly Guilbault Christine."— Presentation transcript:
Female Mock Jurors and the Child Victim: An Assessment of Age and Sex as Factors in Trial Sentencing Theresa Bardy Amanda Dubs Beverly Guilbault Christine Manigat
Background Child witnesses are often seen as more honest but less accurate than older witnesses (Ross, Dunning, Toglia, & Ceci, 1990; Nightingale, 1993; McCauley & Parker, 2000). Child witness ratings are susceptible to Contrast Effects (Ross et al, 1990). –Contrast effects occur when a stereotype is violated or shown to be completely false (e.g. A child giving a very “adult-like” testimony). –This has been thought to effect studies using the same testimony and changing only the age of the witness
Background (cont’d) Research has found that mock jurors rated children as more credible than other age groups such as adolescents, young adults and the elderly (Ross et al., 1990). The effects of age on the rate of guilty verdicts has not been determined. –Some studies have shown no significant effects of age (Ross et al., 1990). –Some studies have suggested that age has a significant effect (Nightingale, 1993).
Background (cont’d) Sex of the defendant makes a difference in the jury’s verdict (Stephan, 1974) –A male defendant usually receives a more severe sentence than a female defendant (Mazzella & Feingold, 1994) –On the contrary, other researchers found that female defendants are given slightly harsher sentences than male defendants (Stephan, 1974)
Hypothesis Most severe sentence - male defendant and child victim Least severe sentence - female defendant and adult victim The child victim will elicit a significantly more severe sentence than the adult. Lastly, the male defendant will elicit a significantly more severe sentence than the female.
Rationale Women, more than men, tend to perceive a child as more credible (McCauley & Parker, 2001) A male defendant usually receives a more severe sentence than a female defendant (Mazzella & Feingold, 1994)
Method 2 (Age: child vs. adult) X 2 (Sex: male vs. female) Independent groups design
Method Participants: 117 Mount Holyoke College students, ranging in age from 18-65. 30 in child/male condition 30 in child/female condition 28 in adult/male condition 29 in adult/female condition Randomly assigned Materials: Trial Case summary One dependent measure question and two questions concerning the independent variables
Method (cont’d) Procedure: Written consent from each participant Packets were randomly distributed to the participants Instructed not to turn back to previous pages Read and completed the packet in approximately 10mins Debriefed
Results Dependent variable –Severity of sentence (scale: 1 – 10 years in prison) Prediction Most severe sentence - male defendant and child victim Least severe sentence - female defendant and adult victim The child victim always elicits a more severe sentence than the adult. The male defendant always gets more severe sentence than the female.
Results (cont’d) ~ Before conducting the study we specified that the following data would be eliminated: ~ Those with an incorrect age estimate (more than two years) ~ Those with an incorrect sex identification ~ Those who did not answer the sentencing question ~ The data from 17 participants was eliminated from analysis due to the above specifications.
Results (cont’d) A two-way Analysis of Variance Significant differences ? No significant main effect for Age Significant Main effect was found for Sex No significant interaction effect between Sex and Age
Discussion Significant differences ? No significant differences in sentencing between a child victim and an adult victim Males were given significantly more severe sentences than females No significant interaction effect between Sex and Age Our findings are both consistent and inconsistent with past research Consistent with Ross et al. and Mazzella & Feingold Inconsistent with Nightingale and Stephan
Discussion (cont’d) Implications based on our study: Stereotypes about Sex differences are likely to influence individuals, which could lead to biased decisions in trial Stereotypes about Age differences are unlikely to influence individuals
Discussion (cont’d) Problems encountered Some questions lacked clarity Case still lacked believability Participants were not focused completely on the task
Discussion (cont’d) Suggestions for Future Research : Modify this experiment Using a believable case Testing participants in groups as well as individually Using different types of crimes Testing guilt rates to verify that they co-vary with sentencing as predicted Use archival data to find evidence of differences in sentencing based on sex and age Survey individuals about sex and age stereotypes