Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Defendant's gender affects length of sentence

25.05.2010
A study of 300 simulated court cases shows that experienced judges, lay assessors, prosecutors, police officers, and lawyers make decisions and convict defendants differently depending on whether they are men or women and what the defendant looks like. Eyewitnesses to crimes are also affected by these factors.

This is especially pronounced if there is an extended period of time separating the crime and the testimony. This is what Angela S. Ahola, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, shows in her dissertation.

In her study of simulated short criminal cases, Angela S. Ahola shows that gender and appearance affect our judgments of personality, occupation, morals, and reliability and create a frame of reference for our behavior. Among other things, it was shown that judges and lay assessors both assessed and judged accused individuals of the same gender as themselves more severely than the opposite gender.

On the other hand, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, and law students, regardless of their own gender, evaluated male defendants more harshly than women defendants. What's more, among female members of this category, that is, those without a convicting role in the legal process, differences were seen in their evaluations depending on the looks of the accused.

"Most people have a need to get some conception of people they meet in everyday life. This is normal in everyday life. But if the same preconceptions, or so-called harmless everyday conceptions, play a role in the system of justice, this means that people are not equal before the law. In that case, we lose part of the fundamental security that a functioning rule-of-law society provides," says Angela S. Ahola.

Angela S. Ahola also demonstrates that it is not only people within the justice system that are affected. A study of eyewitnesses to a fictive crime shows that male perpetrators are judged more severely than equally violent female perpetrators. If two weeks goes by after the witnessing of the crime, gender plays an even greater role. A man will be judged even more sternly than a woman, which means that when our memory does not serve, we tend to remember more in accordance with the image, or stereotype, we have in our minds.

Photographic evidence also turned out to have a reinforcing effect in judgments. In the part of the study where psychology students were asked to play the role of lay assessors and judges, perpetrators accused of murder or arson were judged more harshly if the evidence was illustrated by crime scene photographs.

Angela S. Ahola maintains that these findings may be of importance regarding whether photographic evidence should be used in court, considering what an impact it can have.

"With these findings, the dissertation can be of practical use for our understanding of how the Swedish and perhaps other countries system of justice can be affected as regards witness testimony, assessment of evidence, and sentencing," says Angela S. Ahola.

Further information: Angela S. Ahola, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, mobile: +46 (0)70-417 66 37, e-mail angela_ahola@hotmail.com.

Pressofficer Jonas Åblad, +46- 81 62 172; jonas.ablad@kommunikation.su.se

For image: press@su.se or +46-8 16 40 90

Jonas Åblad | idw
Further information:
http://su.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?searchId=1&pid=diva2:311692
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>