Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Lonnie Duncan

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Morris

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles Crawford

Abstract

The present study examined the effects of defendant race, psychological expert witness race, the racial salience of a psychological expert witness's testimony, and modern racism on juror decisions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight conditions that varied the race of the defendant (Black or White), the race of the psychological expert witness (Black or White), and the racial salience of the expert witness testimony (racially relevant or not racially relevant). Participants were asked to review the case documents of a criminal case in which the defendant was charged with battery and robbery. Participants rendered verdicts for both charges, as well as rated their perceptions of the defendant, eyewitnesses, and psychological expert witness. In addition, participants completed the Modern Racism Scale (MRS) (McConahay, 1986). The following hypotheses were investigated: (1) whether modern racism scale scores, defendant race, and psychological expert race are predictors of verdict; (2) whether modern racism scale scores, defendant race, and psychological expert testimony type are predictors of verdict; (3) whether participants would give the highest ratings of the psychological expert witness when he is White and provides a non-racially relevant testimony; (4) whether participants would give the highest ratings of the defendant when he is White and a non-racially relevant defense is made on his behalf.

While none of the original hypotheses were supported, post-hoc analyses revealed several significant findings. Logistic regression results revealed that the overall model of three predictors (modern racism scores, participant race, and participant gender) are statistically reliable in predicting verdict. Specifically, as the MRS total score increases, so does the probability of a guilty verdict. In addition, female participants are less likely to render a not guilty verdict (more likely to render a guilty verdict) than male participants. The results also revealed that participants were more likely to rate the expert witness's testimony as unimpressive when he provided a racially relevant testimony than when he gave a non-racially relevant testimony. Furthermore, when participants had higher MRS scores, they were more likely to rate the expert witness as being poorly educationally qualified and having an unprofessional manner on the witness stand.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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