EFFECTS OF OFFENDERS’ PHYSICAL ATTRACTION AND SEX ON THE SEVERITY OF SENTENCING DECISIONS

UMUKORO, S Omonigho, EGWUONWU, I Davis

Abstract


 

 

 

This study investigated the effect of offenders’ physical attractiveness and sex on sentencing decisions. Previous studies from various authors often showed a lot of inconsistency in the outcomes highlighting the impact of physical attraction and sex of offenders. Most of these inconsistencies have been attributed to the nature of crime.

This study adopted an experimental design using in which data was collected from 48 participants. The participants of the study were mock judges, each of whom passed sentencing decisions on 4 hypothetical offenders. Four hypotheses were developed from the literature review and tested using ANOVA and t-tests.

The results indicated that both offenders’ sex and physical attraction had main effects on severity of sentencing decision of judges at [F(1, 189) =26.861; P<.01] and [F(1, 4189)=147.494; P<.01) respectively. However, offenders’ sex and physical attraction had no interaction effect on severity of sentencing decision of judges at [F(3, 189) =1.011; P>.05]. Judges’ sex did not have any significant influence on the severity of sentencing given to offenders at t(46)=.029, p>.05.

By implication, offenders could also use their physical appearance and gender to sway judges to give favourable judgments and sentencing. Therefore, hiding behind physical attributes could lead to errors in verdicts and wrongful convictions with the real perpetrators going unpunished. It was thus recommended that appropriate checks and balances be put in place to cater for the subjectivity and bias involved in sentencing decisions. Directions for future studies were highlighted.

 


Full Text:

PDF

References


Ask, K., & Granhag, P. A. (2007). Motivational bias in criminal investigators’ judgments of witness reliability. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 561–591.

Bond, C. F.,& DePaulo, B. M. (2006). Accuracy of deception judgments. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 214–234

Bull, P. (2006). Detecting lies and deceit: The psychology of lying and the implications for professional practice. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 16, 166–167.

Cahill, S. (2012) Gender and Sentencing: A Canadian Perspective Criminology and Jusitce policy

Correll, S. J., & Ridgeway, C. L. (2003). Expectation States Theory. In J. DeLameter (Ed.), Handbook of Social Psychology (pp. 29-51). Springer US.

Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 285-290.

Dumas, R., & Teste´, B. (2006). The influence of criminal facial stereotypes on juridic judgments. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 65, 237–244.

Ekman, P. (2006). How to spot a terrorist on the fly. Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2006, from washingtonpost.com

Esses, V. M., & Webster, C. D. (1988). Physical attractiveness, dangerousness, and the Canadian criminal code. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 1017–1031.

Fink, B. & Penton-Voak, I. (2002). Evolutionary Psychology of Facial Attractiveness. Psychological Science, 11(5), 154-158.

Frank, M. G.,& Ekman, P. (1997). The ability to detect deceit generalizes across different types of high-stake lies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1429–1439.

Granhag, P. A. & Stromwall, L. A. (2004). The detection of deception in forensic contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Henig, R. M. (February 5, 2006). Looking for the lie. New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2007, from www.nytimes.com

Higgins, P. L., Heath, W. P., & Grannemann, B. D. (2007). How type of excuse defense, mock juror age, and defendant age affect mock jurors' decisions. Journal of Social Psychology, 147(4), 371-392.

Hollingsworth, D. K. (1985). The Counselor and Physical Attractiveness: A Response. Journal of Counseling and Development, 63, 488-489.

Kassin, S. M., Goldstein, C. C., & Savitsky, K. (2003). Behavioral confirmation in the interrogation room: On the dangers of presuming guilt. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 187–203.

Kassin, S. M., Reddy, M. E., & Tulloch, W. F. (1990). Juror interpretations of ambiguous evidence: The need for cognition, presentation order, and persuasion. Law and Human Behavior, 14, 43–55.

McKelvie, S. J., & Coley, J. (2003). Effects of crime seriousness and offender facial attractiveness on recommended treatment. Social Behavior and Personality, 21, 265-277.

Meissner, C. A., & Kassin, S. M. (2002). ‘He’s guilty!’: Investigator bias in judgments of truth and deception. Law and Human Behavior, 26, 469–480.

Meissner, C. A., & Kassin, S.M. (2004).‘You’re guilty, so just confess!’ Cognitive and confirmational biases in the interrogation room. In G. D. Lassiter (Ed.), Interrogations, confessions, and entrapment (pp.85–106). New York: Kluwer Academic

Pollak, O. (1961) The criminality of women. New York: Barnes

Porter, S., & ten Brinke, L. (2008). Reading between the lies: Identifying concealed and falsified emotions in universal facial expressions. Psychological Science, 19, 508–514.

Rodriguez F, Curry T.R, and Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly, 87(2), 318–339,

Roney, J. R., Hanson, K. N., Durante, K. M., & Maestripieri, D. (2006). Reading men’s faces: Women’s mate attractiveness judgments track men’s testosterone and interest in infants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 273, 2169–2175.

Sigall, H., & Ostrove, N. (1975). Beautiful but dangerous: Effects of offender attractiveness and nature of the crime on juridic judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 410-414.

Vrij, A. (2008). Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Vrij, A., Akehurst, L., & Knight, S. (2006). Police officers’, social workers’, teachers’ and general public’s beliefs about deception in children, adolescents and adults. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 11, 297–312.

Wilbanks, W. (1988). Are elderly felons treated more leniently by the criminal justice system? International Journal of Aging, 26, 275-288.

Williams, M. A., & Mattingley, J. B. (2006). Do angry men get noticed? Current Biology, 16, 402–404.

Willis, J.,& Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after a 100-ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17, 592–598.

Wilson, P. J. (2003). Wrongful convictions: Lessons learned from the Sophonow public inquiry. Canadian Police College


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.