This research examined the influence of perspective taking with a defendant and emotionality of victim impact statements on courtroom decisions. We hypothesize that perspective taking with the defendant will limit the effects of emotionality within victim impact statements. In Study 1 a statement prompted participants to perspective take with a defendant in a murder trial. Participants also viewed either flat or high emotionality victim impact statements. Study 2 replicated study one, but instead primed participants to perspective take with the defendant using a sentence unscrambling task. The results of Study 1 were inconclusive. Study 2 found that perspective taking with the defendant diminished the influence of the emotionality of the victim impact statements on sentencing and empathy.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Major Qualifying Project
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Social Science and Policy Studies