Self-report on criminal risk assessments and disclosure of psychiatric symptoms among offenders adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity
Bias is the “systematic error in the estimation of a value” that influences judgment regardless of the truth. Unfortunately, in forensic psychology, bias is often assumed to be explicit and purposefully orchestrated for monetary gain, as in the case of purported “hired guns”. In reality, however, bias often occurs outside the awareness of the forensic examiner, and in some cases may be a result of examinee responding. The purpose of this study was to expand on previous work on examinee-examiner contextual factors (e.g., race, age, gender) by examining self-reported responses on measures of criminal risk and psychiatric symptomology. Participants in this study consisted of 204 adults who were adjudicated Not Guilty by Reasoning of Insanity (NGRI) under California Penal Code 1026. Participants completed the Self-Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ), Measure of Antisocial Attitudes and Associates (MCAA), and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). The demographic characteristics (race, sex, and age) of examiners and examinees were used to create pairings based on available demographic information in order to examine between group differences. Data was collected from two California forensic hospitals. To examine group differences, factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Factorial Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) procedures were performed on scores from the BSI, SAQ, and the MCAA. A chi-squared test was used to examine group differences in the frequency of unanswered items. Sex match (matched, not matched), race match (matched, not matched), and age match (i.e., Within 10 years, not within 10 years) served as the independent variables. The results showed no significant effect of age, sex, or age differences between the examiner or examinee on the SAQ, MCAA, or BSI. Therefore the hypotheses were not supported with respect to race differences between the examiners and examinees. However, consistent with the hypotheses when examining the sex and age of the examiners and examinees, no significant effect was found on total or subscale scores of the SAQ, MCAA, or BSI. The results of this study did not indicate significant differences on self-report responding based on the demographic differences between the examiner and examinee suggesting that self-report of measures of criminal risk and psychiatric symptoms are perhaps not impacted by the demographic differences between the examiner and examinee. Other Implications and limitations are discussed.