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Measuring the Double-Edged Sword: Does Scientifically Deterministic Evidence Protect or Punish Criminals?

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Scientists, lawyers, and bioethicists have pondered the impact of scientifically deterministic evidence on a judge or jury when deciding the sentence of a criminal. Though the impact may be one that relieves the amount of personal guilt on the part

Scientists, lawyers, and bioethicists have pondered the impact of scientifically deterministic evidence on a judge or jury when deciding the sentence of a criminal. Though the impact may be one that relieves the amount of personal guilt on the part of the criminal, this evidence may also be the very reason that a judge or jury punishes more strongly, suggesting that this type of evidence may be a double-edged sword. 118 participants were shown three films of fictional sentencing hearings. All three films introduced scientifically deterministic evidence, and participants were asked to recommend a prison sentence. Each hearing portrayed a different criminal with different neurological conditions, a different crime, and a different extent of argumentation during closing arguments about the scientifically deterministic evidence. Though the argumentation from the prosecution and the defense did not affect sentencing, the interaction of type of crime and neurological condition did.

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2014-05

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An Analysis of Stimulus Confrontation as Self-Help for Specific Phobias: A Scholarly and Personal Narrative

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Perhaps by some ingrained sense of human preparedness, phobias are an outlier in the world of conditioning. Again and again, they are highlighted as the only thing which avoidance makes worse, rather than alleviates. My own fear of insects had

Perhaps by some ingrained sense of human preparedness, phobias are an outlier in the world of conditioning. Again and again, they are highlighted as the only thing which avoidance makes worse, rather than alleviates. My own fear of insects had reached its most severe level just as I began learning about phobias, and avoidance, in my undergraduate psychology courses. There, I learned that avoidance of the phobic stimulus \u2014 in my case, insects \u2014 seemed to be a fundamental element of maintaining a phobia, and I was more than guilty of it. Following this realization, I endeavored into what I would later come to call Stimulus Confrontation: A self-designed therapeutic course of action to overcome my fear. This thesis, then, is the record of this project. It weaves together my scholarly research on phobias with my own personal narrative concerning the employment of Stimulus Confrontation, beginning with the etymology and proposed etiologies of phobias, followed by an overview of contemporary treatment options available and a recounting of Stimulus Confrontation as applied to my own phobia. Told from her own perspective, English writer and journalist Jenny Diski's book, What I Don't Know About Animals, tells of her own arachnophobia, and includes an honest account of the fear and anxiety it caused for her, as well as her own journey to overcome it. Like my own, Diski's phobia \u2014 arachnophobia \u2014 had come to affect her everyday life. Prior to seeking treatment for her fear at the age of 58, Diski too had learned to avoid the thing which she so feared. Inspired by What I Don't Know About Animals, the personal anecdotes I have included throughout this thesis serve to elaborate upon my personal experience with my own insectophobia, and the cessation of avoidance that led to substantial progress in overcoming my fears. Throughout this thesis, I refer to this cessation of avoidance as Stimulus Confrontation, with the intention that following the same process I did may benefit others in overcoming their own specific phobias.

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2015-12

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Transcendence of prejudice or transcendence with prejudice?: stronger beliefs regarding transcendence are correlated with greater Intergroup bias

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Recent research has identified affirmation of transcendence and exposure to violent Bible verses as being related to greater prejudice toward value-violating out-groups (Blogowska & Saroglou, 2012; Shen et al., 2013). Effects of exposure to specific Bible verses on attitudes toward

Recent research has identified affirmation of transcendence and exposure to violent Bible verses as being related to greater prejudice toward value-violating out-groups (Blogowska & Saroglou, 2012; Shen et al., 2013). Effects of exposure to specific Bible verses on attitudes toward out-groups have not been measured in combination with the Post-Critical Belief Scale developed by Hutsebaut (1996). The relationships between exposure to scriptural endorsements of prejudice, affirmation vs. disaffirmation of transcendence, literal vs. symbolic processing of religious content, and prejudice toward value-violating out-groups were examined using an online survey administered to a sample of U.S. adults (N=283). Greater affirmation of transcendence scores were linked to greater prejudice toward atheists and homosexuals and more favorable ratings of Christians and highly religious people. Lower affirmation of transcendence scores were linked to less favorable ratings of Christians and highly religious people and more favorable ratings of atheists. Exposure to scriptural endorsements of prejudice did not have a significant effect on levels of prejudice in this study.

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2013

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Differential perceptions of LGBT individuals: the intersectionality of sexual orientation and gender

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Current research on anti-gay attitudes has focused heavily on heterosexuals versus

non-heterosexuals, with very little research delving into the differences within these “non-heterosexual” groups. The author conducted an exploratory analysis of how the intersectional effect of gender and sexual orientation affect

Current research on anti-gay attitudes has focused heavily on heterosexuals versus

non-heterosexuals, with very little research delving into the differences within these “non-heterosexual” groups. The author conducted an exploratory analysis of how the intersectional effect of gender and sexual orientation affect perceptions of target groups’ gender and sexuality, which in turn might explain different levels of prejudice toward LGBT subgroups. Based on previous studies, the author hypothesized that participants would believe that a gay male has a more fixed sexuality than a lesbian, leading in turn to higher levels of moral outrage. This study further aims to extend the literature to perceptions of bisexual and transgender individuals by testing competing hypotheses. Participants might feel less moral outrage toward these groups than other LGBT subgroups because they believe their sexuality is even less fixed than lesbians’. Alternatively, participants might feel more moral outrage toward bisexual and transgender targets (versus other LGBT groups) because of the uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty about these groups’ sexuality and/or gender. Overall, participants demonstrated an interactive effect of gender and sexuality on factors including perceived sexual orientation, perceived biological sex, perceived gender identity, perceived sexual fixedness, and moral outrage rather than gender having a main effect on perceptions of gender and sexual orientation having a main effect on perceptions of sexuality. Furthermore, perceptions of sexual fixedness mediated the effect of gender on moral outrage for heterosexual target groups, but not gay targets. Gender certainty mediated the effect of gender on moral outrage for pre-op transgender target groups, but not heterosexuals. This work is important to inform future research on the topics of the intersection of sexuality and gender, especially to extend the limited literature on perceptions of bisexual and transgender individuals.

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2016

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How the expression of DNA evidence affects jurors' interpretation of probabilistic fingerprint evidence

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Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) evidence has been shown to have a strong effect on juror decision-making when presented in court. While DNA evidence has been shown to be extremely reliable, fingerprint evidence, and the way it is presented in court, has

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) evidence has been shown to have a strong effect on juror decision-making when presented in court. While DNA evidence has been shown to be extremely reliable, fingerprint evidence, and the way it is presented in court, has come under much scrutiny. Forensic fingerprint experts have been working on a uniformed way to present fingerprint evidence in court. The most promising has been the Probabilistic Based Fingerprint Evidence (PBFE) created by Forensic Science Services (FSS) (G. Langenburg, personal communication, April 16, 2011). The current study examined how the presence and strength of DNA evidence influenced jurors' interpretation of probabilistic fingerprint evidence. Mock jurors read a summary of a murder case that included fingerprint evidence and testimony from a fingerprint expert and, in some conditions, DNA evidence and testimony from a DNA expert. Results showed that when DNA evidence was found at the crime scene and matched the defendant other evidence and the overall case was rated as stronger than when no DNA was present. Fingerprint evidence did not cause a stronger rating of other evidence and the overall case. Fingerprint evidence was underrated in some cases, and jurors generally weighed all the different strengths of fingerprint testimony to the same degree.

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2012

What helps self-control?: Social relationship characteristics and self-control

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Researchers have found inconsistent effects (negative or positive) of social relationships on self-control capacity. The variation of findings may depend on the aspects of social relationships. In this study, rather than examining overall social relationships and self-control, characteristics in social

Researchers have found inconsistent effects (negative or positive) of social relationships on self-control capacity. The variation of findings may depend on the aspects of social relationships. In this study, rather than examining overall social relationships and self-control, characteristics in social relationships were clearly defined, including social support, social connection and social conflict, to determine their specific effects on self-control. An online survey study was conducted, and 292 college students filled out the survey. For data analysis, path analysis was utilized to examined the direct effect and indirect effect from social relationships to self-control. Results showed social connection and social conflict may indirectly associate with self-control through stress, but social support does not. It may suggest, in traditional stress buffering model, it is the social connection in social support that really reduce the stress. Concerning the direct effects, social support and social connection were significantly associated with self-control directly, but social conflict does not. This result may support the Social Baseline Theory that positive social relationships have direct regulating effects. Results are good for guidance of experimental manipulation of social relationships in study of social influences of self-control.

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2012

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When hurt heroes do harm: collective guilt and leniency toward war-veteran transgressors

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Protectors who do harm are often punished more severely because their crime is perceived as a betrayal of trust. Two experiments test whether this will generalize to protectors who incur harm while serving in their protective role, and if not,

Protectors who do harm are often punished more severely because their crime is perceived as a betrayal of trust. Two experiments test whether this will generalize to protectors who incur harm while serving in their protective role, and if not, whether collective guilt for the harm they suffered provides an explanation. Study 1 tested competing hypotheses that a veteran (versus civilian) with PTSD would be punished either more harshly because of the trust betrayal, or more leniently because of increased guilt about the harm the veteran suffered during war. Men and women were both more lenient toward a veteran (versus civilian) but this effect was mediated by collective guilt only among men. In Study 2, guilt inductions increased leniency among participants less likely to classify the veteran as an in-group member (women, low national identifiers), but not in those who are more likely to classify the veteran as an in-group member (men, high national identifiers), who were lenient without any guilt inductions.

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Date Created
2015

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Effects of videoconferencing on perception in the courtroom

Description

A sample of 193 participants viewed one of six variations of an eyewitness giving mock testimony. Each participant viewed testimony, which varied by level of emotion (none, moderate, or high) and frame (waist-up or head only). Participants then rated the

A sample of 193 participants viewed one of six variations of an eyewitness giving mock testimony. Each participant viewed testimony, which varied by level of emotion (none, moderate, or high) and frame (waist-up or head only). Participants then rated the witness using the Brodsky Witness Credibility Scale and the Reyson Likability Scale. A set of ANOVA's was performed revealing an effect of emotion level on both credibility and likability. Emotion level was found to influence participant judgments of poise, however, to a lesser degree than judgments of credibility and likability. These results suggest that attorneys may want to avoid the use of videoconferencing with certain types of witnesses where testimony may be highly emotional.

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2014

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The Role of Implicit Social-Cognitive Biases in Judgments of Insanity

Description

Juror impartiality is necessary for a fair and just legal system, but is true juror impartiality

realistic? The current study investigated the role of implicit and explicit social-cognitive biases in jurors’ conceptualizations of insanity, and the influence of those biases in

Juror impartiality is necessary for a fair and just legal system, but is true juror impartiality

realistic? The current study investigated the role of implicit and explicit social-cognitive biases in jurors’ conceptualizations of insanity, and the influence of those biases in juror verdict decisions. It was hypothesized that by analyzing the role of implicit and explicit biases in insanity defense cases, jurors’ attitudes towards those with mental illnesses and attitudes towards the insanity defense would influence jurors’ final verdict decisions. Two hundred and two participants completed an online survey which included a trial vignette incorporating an insanity defense (adapted from Maeder et al., 2016), the Insanity Defense Attitude Scale (Skeem, Louden, & Evans, 2004), Community Attitudes Towards the Mentally Ill Scale (Taylor & Dear, 1981), and an Implicit Association Test (Greenwald et al., 1998). While implicit associations concerning mental illness and dangerousness were significantly related to mock jurors’ verdicts, they no longer were when explicit insanity defense attitudes were added to a more complex model including all measured attitudes and biases. Insanity defense attitudes were significantly related to jurors’ verdicts over and above attitudes about the mentally ill and implicit biases concerning the mentally ill. The potentially biasing impact of jurors’ insanity defense attitudes and the impact of implicit associations about the mentally ill in legal judgments are discussed.

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2018

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Opposing experts, relative judgments and the reemergence of the neuroimage bias

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There is conflicting evidence regarding whether a biasing effect of neuroscientific evidence exists. Early research warned of such bias, but more recent papers dispute such claims, with some suggesting a bias only occurs in situations of relative judgment, but not

There is conflicting evidence regarding whether a biasing effect of neuroscientific evidence exists. Early research warned of such bias, but more recent papers dispute such claims, with some suggesting a bias only occurs in situations of relative judgment, but not in situations of absolute judgment. The current studies examined the neuroimage bias within both criminal and civil court case contexts, specifically exploring if a bias is dependent on the context in which the neuroimage evidence is presented (i.e. a single expert vs. opposing experts). In the first experiment 408 participants read a criminal court case summary in which either one expert witness testified (absolute judgment) or two experts testified (relative judgment). The experts presented neurological evidence in the form of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data and the evidence type varied between a brain image and a graph. A neuroimage bias was found, in that jurors who were exposed to two experts were more punitive when the prosecution presented the image and less punitive when the defense did. In the second experiment 240 participants read a summary of a civil court case in which either a single expert witness testified or two experts testified. The experts presented fMRI data to support or refute a claim of chronic pain and the evidence type again varied between image and graph. The expected neuroimage bias was not found, in that jurors were more likely to find in favor of the plaintiff when either side proffered the image, but more likely to find for the defense when only graphs were offered by the experts. These findings suggest that the introduction of neuroimages as evidence may affect jurors punitiveness in criminal cases, as well as liability decisions in civil cases and overall serves to illustrate that the influence of neuroscientific information on legal decision makers is more complex than originally thought.

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2016