Aristotle once said that “law is reason, free from passion” but previous research has shown that perspective taking and racial stereotyping can play a major role in legal decision-making. Past studies have also demonstrated that victim impact statements made during the trial may bring in jury bias and personal prejudice into sentencing decisions, as they may make jurors more aware of the victim rather than the defendant and its crime. This is of particular importance in capital sentencing cases where the life or death of the defendant is dependent on jury decision. We therefore looked into how perspective taking with the defendant, the emotional content of the victim impact statements, and the race of the victim will influence the juror decision-making and sentencing of mock jurors.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Interactive Qualifying Project
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Social Science and Policy Studies