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