How age and race of defendant and victim influence mock jurors' perceptions in a child sexual molestation case



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Texas Tech University


People often use preconceived biases to make judgments about other people. This phenomenon is also known to occur in the justice system. Juror bias research has investigated how characteristics, such as physical attractiveness, age, race, and gender, of a defendant can influence jurors' and even judges' decisions about guilt verdicts and sentencings. The characteristics of the victims have also been found to create biases in juror research. More specifically, in cases involving child sexual assault, the age of the victim has been found to influence jurors' perceptions. This dissertation investigated how the effects of defendant and victim characteristics (victim and defendant age and race) combined influenced jurors' perceptions of defendant guilt, defendant and victim credibility, honesty, responsibility, and mental competence. The results indicated that participant gender and victim age were far more likely to influence perceptions of the defendant and the victim. Defendant age did not influence results significantly.



Stereotype, Child sexual abuse, Discrimination in criminal justice administration, Jury