Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Past research has shown that jurors tend to make more severe culpability judgments when defendants are charged with crimes that are associated with their racial group (e.g., Jones & Kaplan, 2013). Although the Story Model (e.g., Pennington & Hastie, 1988) has received much empirical support and currently is the most prominent model in the juror decision making literature, it has not been applied to cases where racially stereotypical crimes might bias verdict decisions. The present research investigated whether the narrative believability of the stories that are suggested at trial, especially story coherence, would explain the effect of race-crime congruence on verdict decisions. Specifically, I attempted to answer the question of whether race-crime congruence affects biased verdict judgments because it leads to an increase in the coherence of the stories jurors form from the evidence. In addition, my goal was to assess whether motivation to control prejudice and stereotype suppression instructions serve as two potential moderating variables. In Study 1 I developed a scale that fully captures the certainty principles affecting acceptance of and confidence in a story (i.e., interpretation of the evidence leading to trial) in the specific context of juror decision making. Specifically, I examined the factor structure underlying a modified version of Yale's (2013) Narrative Believability Scale-12. Study 2 investigated whether the coherence of the prosecution story (and/or the defense story) mediates the relationship between race-crime congruence and verdict judgments in a diverse online sample. In addition, I planned to assess whether high levels

of motivation to control prejudice and the presence of stereotype suppression instructions independently reduce this effect. Moreover, with study 3, I attempted to replicate the results in study 2 with a student sample in the laboratory, using the stories that were actually created by the mock jurors as the mediating mechanisms. Based on the findings of Study 2 and Study 3, an additional study was conducted to investigate whether those null effects that emerged in the other studies were due to order effects. No race-crime congruence effects emerged. Findings and implications were discussed.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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