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STATSpaper - Race Victim Attractiveness 1 Running head RACE...

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Race & Victim Attractiveness 1 Running head: RACE & VICTIM ATTRACTIVENESS The Effects of Race and Victim Attractiveness on Defendants’ Sentence Time in 1 st Degree Murder: A jury simulation
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Race & Victim Attractiveness 2 Abstract In the late 1970s to the early 1980s the use of jury simulations to measure the impact that certain characteristics of individuals and their situations have on how they are perceived had been of great interest. As the years have gone by the use of jury simulations have declined vastly. During the period of heightened interest there were numerous experiments carried out on what influences jurors decisions. This simulation targeted what effects defendant race and victim attractiveness has on juror’s decisions on sentencing. Four researchers distributed jury simulations to 40 respondents ranging in age from 18 - 32. The simulation had four versions. The defendant was either African American or Caucasian and the victim was either socially attractive or unattractive. An attractive victim was defined as having cheated for the first time, while the unattractive victim was defined as having had cheated multiple times. Researchers instructed respondents to read the instructions and scenario and state their opinions. Differences in the defendant’s race and the attractiveness of the victim did not have a significant effect on the length of imprisonment assigned. Possible explanations and limitations are addressed and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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Race & Victim Attractiveness 3 The Effects of Race and Victim Attractiveness on the Severity of Defendants’ Sentencing: A Jury Simulation One of the most tedious of the civic duties of a citizen of the United States of America is jury duty. In this day and age we live in a litigation-happy society; there is also a vast number of crimes being committed, leading to a rise in court cases. In many cases, the decision of finding innocence or guilt lies in the hands of a bunch of jurors, who happen to be just common everyday citizens. Research into what characteristics, or variables, contribute to jurors decisions date back as far as 1961 when Professor Allen Bullock decided to try and answer the question why “Negro’s” had such a disproportionate representation in prisons compared to general population. As the years have progressed there has been more extensive research on the influence of race, more specifically concluding that blacks have a higher probability of being convicted of a given crime than whites and also receive more sever sentencing (Gleason & Harris, 1975; Gordon et al., 1988; & Sommers, 2006). The impact of the social perception of the victim and the defendant on sentencing has also come into play and researched (Borgida & White, 1978).
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