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Factors Influencing Decisions in a Capital Trial Involving Domestic Violence

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Title: Factors Influencing Decisions in a Capital Trial Involving Domestic Violence
Author(s): Reynolds, Carrie E.
Advisor(s): Bottoms, Bette L.
Department / Program: Psychology
Graduate Major: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
Degree: MA, Master of Arts
Genre: Masters
Subject(s): witnessing domestic violence capital trial attribution theory
Abstract: In this study, I examined how mock jurors used a defendant’s childhood history of witnessing domestic violence as they rendered sentences during a capital murder trial in which the defendant was himself accused of domestic violence – murdering his partner. Specifically, I was interested in how jurors used this information on their own, and whether attorneys could influence how they used this information by priming (or not priming) attributions about the stability of the defendants’ behavior. Furthermore, I was interested in the effects of juror gender on decisions, especially whether men or women were more or less influenced by a defendant’s history of witnessing domestic violence. Participants read a case summary involving a domestic violence murder, gave sentencing judgments, and completed measures of attributions, emotions, and sentencing goals. As predicted, participants had more empathy for the defendant and believed the prosecuting attorney less and the defense attorney more when the defendant had a history of witnessing domestic violence than when he did not, but there were no other effects of this variable. When stable attributions were primed, participants were slightly more punitive, believed the defendant had more control over his actions, and felt his behavior was stable than when no attributions were primed. Contrary to hypotheses, there were no main effects of gender on the main dependent variables.
Issue Date: 2012-12-07
Genre: thesis
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Carrie E. Reynolds
Date Available in INDIGO: 2014-04-15
Date Deposited: 2011-08

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