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Scientific Detail and Juror Decision-Making in Capital Scenarios

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By providing vignettes with manipulated scientific evidence, this research examined if including more or less scientific detail affected decision-making in regards to the death penalty. Participants were randomly assigned one of the two manipulations (less science and more science) after

By providing vignettes with manipulated scientific evidence, this research examined if including more or less scientific detail affected decision-making in regards to the death penalty. Participants were randomly assigned one of the two manipulations (less science and more science) after reading a short scenario introducing the mock capital trial and their role as jury members. Survey respondents were told that a jury had previously found the defendant guilty and they would now deliberate the appropriate punishment. Before being exposed to the manipulation, respondents answered questions pertaining to their prior belief in the death penalty, as well as their level of support of procedural justice and science. These questions provided a baseline to compare to their sentencing decision. Participants were then asked what sentence they would impose \u2014 life in prison or death \u2014 and how the fMRI evidence presented by an expert witness for the defense affected their decision. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were used to identify how the level of scientific detail affected their decision. Our intended predictor variable (level of scientific detail) did not affect juror decision-making. In fact, the qualitative results revealed a variety of interpretations of the scientific evidence used both in favor of death and in favor of life. When looking at what did predict juror decision-making, gender, prior belief in the death penalty, and political ideology all were significant predictors. As in previous literature, the fMRI evidence in our study had mixed results with regards to implementation of the death penalty. This held true in both of our manipulations, showing that despite the level of detail in evidence intended for mitigation, jurors with preconceived notions may still disregard the evidence, and some jurors may even view it is aggravating and thus increase the likelihood of a death sentence for a defendant with such brain abnormalities.

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2016-12

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We are legion: hacktivism as a product of deindividuation, power, and social injustice

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The current study examines the role that context plays in hackers' perceptions of the risks and payoffs characterizing a hacktivist attack. Hacktivism (i.e., hacking to convey a moral, ethical, or social justice message) is examined through a general game theoretic

The current study examines the role that context plays in hackers' perceptions of the risks and payoffs characterizing a hacktivist attack. Hacktivism (i.e., hacking to convey a moral, ethical, or social justice message) is examined through a general game theoretic framework as a product of costs and benefits, as well as the contextual cues that may sway hackers' estimations of each. In two pilot studies, a bottom-up approach is utilized to identify the key motives underlying (1) past attacks affiliated with a major hacktivist group, Anonymous, and (2) popular slogans utilized by Anonymous in its communication with members, targets, and broader society. Three themes emerge from these analyses, namely: (1) the prevalence of first-person plural pronouns (i.e., we, our) in Anonymous slogans; (2) the prevalence of language inducing status or power; and (3) the importance of social injustice in triggering Anonymous activity. The present research therefore examines whether these three contextual factors activate participants' (1) sense of deindividuation, or the loss of an individual's personal self in the context of a group or collective; and (2) motive for self-serving power or society-serving social justice. Results suggest that participants' estimations of attack likelihood stemmed solely from expected payoffs, rather than their interplay with subjective risks. As expected, the use of we language led to a decrease in subjective risks, possibly due to primed effects of deindividuation. In line with game theory, the joint appearance of both power and justice motives resulted in (1) lower subjective risks, (2) higher payoffs, and (3) higher attack likelihood overall. Implications for policymakers and the understanding and prevention of hacktivism are discussed, as are the possible ramifications of deindividuation and power for the broader population of Internet users around the world.

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Date Created
2015

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Caught in the middle: response dynamics of political partisan conspiracy theories and independent responders

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Political party identification has an immense influence on shaping individual attitudes and processes of reasoning to the point where otherwise knowledgeable people endorse political conspiracies that support one's political in-group and simultaneously disparage an out-group. Although recent research has explored

Political party identification has an immense influence on shaping individual attitudes and processes of reasoning to the point where otherwise knowledgeable people endorse political conspiracies that support one's political in-group and simultaneously disparage an out-group. Although recent research has explored this tendency among partisans, less is known about how Independents respond in comparison. Previous research fails to identify the Independent as a unique type of voter, but rather categorizes this group as ostensibly partisan, not a separate phenomenon to investigate. However, most Independents purport neutrality and, by recent polls, are becoming a substantial body worthy of concerted focus. Many questions arise about who Independents really are. For example, do all who identify as Independent behave in a similar manner? Are Independents ideologically different than what is represented by a partisan label? Is the Independent category a broad term for something entirely misunderstood? A thorough investigation into the greater dynamics of the political environment in the United States is an enormous undertaking, requiring a robust interdisciplinary approach beyond the focus and intent of this study. Therefore, this study begins the journey toward understanding these phenomena; do Independents, as a whole, uniformly respond to statements about political conspiracy theories? To explore these possibilities, explicit responses are bypassed to evaluate the implicit appeal of political conspiracy theories. An action dynamics (mouse-tracking) approach, a data rich method that records the response process, demonstrates Independents are not in fact a homogeneous group, but rather seem to fall into two groups: non-partisan leaning and partisan leaning. The analysis exposes that relative to the baseline and control stimuli: (1) Non-leaning Independents reveal an increased susceptibility to implicitly endorse bi-partisan directed conspiracy theories when compared to leaners. (2) Republican-leaners demonstrate a stronger susceptibility to endorse right-wing aligned conspiracy theories (against Barack Obama), similar to Republican partisans. (3) Democrat-leaners, unlike Democrat partisans, do not demonstrate any particular susceptibility to implicitly endorse either right/left-wing aligned conspiracy theories (against Barack Obama or George W. Bush). Drawing from major theories from social, political, and cognitive psychology will contribute to an understanding of these phenomena. Concluding remarks include study limitations and future directions.

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Date Created
2017

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The Impact of Gruesome Photographs on Forensic Judgments of Competency and Legal Insanity

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The legal system relies heavily on the contribution of forensic psychologists. These psychologists give opinions on a defendant’s ability to stand trial, their legal sanity at the time of the crime, their future dangerousness, and their competency to be executed.

The legal system relies heavily on the contribution of forensic psychologists. These psychologists give opinions on a defendant’s ability to stand trial, their legal sanity at the time of the crime, their future dangerousness, and their competency to be executed. However, we know little about what extrinsic factors bias these experts. I assessed the influence of gruesome photographs on forensic psychologists’ evaluations of competency and legal sanity. Previous research has demonstrated that these photographs influence lay judgments of guilt. I predicted that gruesome color photographs (versus the same photographs in black-and-white or a textual description of the photographs) would influence forensic psychologists to judge the defendant competent and sane (decisions that might ultimately lead to punishment). I also predicted that this effect would be greater for sanity judgments than for competency judgments. I asked laypeople to make the same decisions in order to compare expert and lay judgments. I predicted that impact of photograph type seen in experts would be greater in the lay sample. No differences in judgments of competence, sanity, or mental illness emerged as a function of the type of visual information, for either expert or lay participants. Experts relied on competency evidence to make competency judgments and insanity evidence to make insanity judgments. In contrast, lay people relied on various types of evidence to make their ultimate judgments. This research suggests that people making competency and sanity judgments might not be biased by gruesome photographs.

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Created

Date Created
2018

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Investigating the Relationship Between Visual Confirmation Bias and the Low-Prevalence Effect in Visual Search

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Previous research from Rajsic et al. (2015, 2017) suggests that a visual form of confirmation bias arises during visual search for simple stimuli, under certain conditions, wherein people are biased to seek stimuli matching an initial cue color even when

Previous research from Rajsic et al. (2015, 2017) suggests that a visual form of confirmation bias arises during visual search for simple stimuli, under certain conditions, wherein people are biased to seek stimuli matching an initial cue color even when this strategy is not optimal. Furthermore, recent research from our lab suggests that varying the prevalence of cue-colored targets does not attenuate the visual confirmation bias, although people still fail to detect rare targets regardless of whether they match the initial cue (Walenchok et al. under review). The present investigation examines the boundary conditions of the visual confirmation bias under conditions of equal, low, and high cued-target frequency. Across experiments, I found that: (1) People are strongly susceptible to the low-prevalence effect, often failing to detect rare targets regardless of whether they match the cue (Wolfe et al., 2005). (2) However, they are still biased to seek cue-colored stimuli, even when such targets are rare. (3) Regardless of target prevalence, people employ strategies when search is made sufficiently burdensome with distributed items and large search sets. These results further support previous findings that the low-prevalence effect arises from a failure to perceive rare items (Hout et al., 2015), while visual confirmation bias is a bias of attentional guidance (Rajsic et al., 2015, 2017).

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Created

Date Created
2018

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Towards More Intuitive Frameworks For The Project Portfolio Selection Problem

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Project portfolio selection (PPS) is a significant problem faced by most organizations. How to best select the many innovative ideas that a company has developed to deploy in a proper and sustained manner with a balanced allocation of its resources

Project portfolio selection (PPS) is a significant problem faced by most organizations. How to best select the many innovative ideas that a company has developed to deploy in a proper and sustained manner with a balanced allocation of its resources over multiple time periods is one of vital importance to a company's goals. This dissertation details the steps involved in deploying a more intuitive portfolio selection framework that facilitates bringing analysts and management to a consensus on ongoing company efforts and buy into final decisions. A binary integer programming selection model that constructs an efficient frontier allows the evaluation of portfolios on many different criteria and allows decision makers (DM) to bring their experience and insight to the table when making a decision is discussed. A binary fractional integer program provides additional choices by optimizing portfolios on cost-benefit ratios over multiple time periods is also presented. By combining this framework with an `elimination by aspects' model of decision making, DMs evaluate portfolios on various objectives and ensure the selection of a portfolio most in line with their goals. By presenting a modeling framework to easily model a large number of project inter-dependencies and an evolutionary algorithm that is intelligently guided in the search for attractive portfolios by a beam search heuristic, practitioners are given a ready recipe to solve big problem instances to generate attractive project portfolios for their organizations. Finally, this dissertation attempts to address the problem of risk and uncertainty in project portfolio selection. After exploring the selection of portfolios based on trade-offs between a primary benefit and a primary cost, the third important dimension of uncertainty of outcome and the risk a decision maker is willing to take on in their quest to select the best portfolio for their organization is examined.

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Date Created
2018

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Safe-to-fail infrastructure for resilient cities under non-stationary climate

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Motivated by the need for cities to prepare and be resilient to unpredictable future weather conditions, this dissertation advances a novel infrastructure development theory of “safe-to-fail” to increase the adaptive capacity of cities to climate change. Current infrastructure development is

Motivated by the need for cities to prepare and be resilient to unpredictable future weather conditions, this dissertation advances a novel infrastructure development theory of “safe-to-fail” to increase the adaptive capacity of cities to climate change. Current infrastructure development is primarily reliant on identifying probable risks to engineered systems and making infrastructure reliable to maintain its function up to a designed system capacity. However, alterations happening in the earth system (e.g., atmosphere, oceans, land, and ice) and in human systems (e.g., greenhouse gas emission, population, land-use, technology, and natural resource use) are increasing the uncertainties in weather predictions and risk calculations and making it difficult for engineered infrastructure to maintain intended design thresholds in non-stationary future. This dissertation presents a new way to develop safe-to-fail infrastructure that departs from the current practice of risk calculation and is able to manage failure consequences when unpredicted risks overwhelm engineered systems.

This dissertation 1) defines infrastructure failure, refines existing safe-to-fail theory, and compares decision considerations for safe-to-fail vs. fail-safe infrastructure development under non-stationary climate; 2) suggests an approach to integrate the estimation of infrastructure failure impacts with extreme weather risks; 3) provides a decision tool to implement resilience strategies into safe-to-fail infrastructure development; and, 4) recognizes diverse perspectives for adopting safe-to-fail theory into practice in various decision contexts.

Overall, this dissertation advances safe-to-fail theory to help guide climate adaptation decisions that consider infrastructure failure and their consequences. The results of this dissertation demonstrate an emerging need for stakeholders, including policy makers, planners, engineers, and community members, to understand an impending “infrastructure trolley problem”, where the adaptive capacity of some regions is improved at the expense of others. Safe-to-fail further engages stakeholders to bring their knowledge into the prioritization of various failure costs based on their institutional, regional, financial, and social capacity to withstand failures. This approach connects to sustainability, where city practitioners deliberately think of and include the future cost of social, environmental and economic attributes in planning and decision-making.

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Date Created
2018

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Sea, storms, & tourism: a case study of the hazards and vulnerabilities of Cape Cod, MA

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Drawing from the fields of coastal geography, political ecology, and institutions, this dissertation uses Cape Cod, MA, as a case study, to investigate how chronic and acute climate-related coastal hazards, socio-economic characteristics, and governance and decision-making interact to produce more

Drawing from the fields of coastal geography, political ecology, and institutions, this dissertation uses Cape Cod, MA, as a case study, to investigate how chronic and acute climate-related coastal hazards, socio-economic characteristics, and governance and decision-making interact to produce more resilient or at-risk coastal communities. GIS was used to model the impacts of sea level rise (SLR) and hurricane storm surge scenarios on natural and built infrastructure. Social, gentrification, and tourism indices were used to identify communities differentially vulnerable to coastal hazards. Semi-structured interviews with planners and decision-makers were analyzed to examine hazard mitigation planning.

The results of these assessments demonstrate there is considerable variation in coastal hazard impacts across Cape Cod towns. First, biophysical vulnerability is highly variable with the Outer Cape (e.g., Provincetown) at risk for being temporarily and/or permanently isolated from the rest of the county. In most towns, a Category 1 accounts for the majority of inundation with impacts that will be intensified by SLR. Second, gentrification in coastal communities can create new social vulnerabilities by changing economic bases and disrupting communities’ social networks making it harder to cope. Moreover, higher economic dependence on tourism can amplify towns’ vulnerability with reduced capacities to recover. Lastly, low political will is an important barrier to effective coastal hazard mitigation planning and implementation particularly given the power and independence of town government on Cape Cod. Despite this independence, collaboration will be essential for addressing the trans-boundary effects of coastal hazards and provide an opportunity for communities to leverage their limited resources for long-term hazard mitigation planning.

This research contributes to the political ecology of hazards and vulnerability research by drawing from the field of institutions, by examining how decision-making processes shape vulnerabilities and capacities to plan and implement mitigation strategies. While results from this research are specific to Cape Cod, it demonstrates a broader applicability of the “Hazards, Vulnerabilities, and Governance” framework for assessing other hazards (e.g., floods, fires, etc.). Since there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to mitigating coastal hazards, examining vulnerabilities and decision-making at local scales is necessary to make resiliency and mitigation efforts specific to communities’ needs.

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Date Created
2016

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Developing a decision-making framework for market entry in the sheet metal construction industry

Description

Entering a new market in the construction industry is a complex task. Although many contractors have experienced the benefits of expanding their market offerings, many more have had unsuccessful experiences causing hardship for the entire organization. Standardized decision-making

Entering a new market in the construction industry is a complex task. Although many contractors have experienced the benefits of expanding their market offerings, many more have had unsuccessful experiences causing hardship for the entire organization. Standardized decision-making processes can help to increase the likelihood of success, but few specialty contractors have taken the time to develop a formal procedure. According to this research, only 6 percent of survey respondents and 7 percent of case study participants from the sheet metal industry have a formal decision process. Five sources of data (existing literature, industry survey, semi-structured interviews, factor prioritization workshops, and expert panel discussions) are consulted to understand the current market entry decision-making practices and needs of the sheet metal industry. The data help to accomplish three study objectives: (1) determine the current processes and best practices used for market entry decision-making in the sheet metal industry, (2) identify motivations leading to market entry by sheet metal contractors, and (3) develop a standardized decision process that improves market entry decision outcomes. Grounded in a firm understanding of industry practices, a three-phased decision-making framework is created to provide a structured approach to guide contractors to an informed decision. Four industry leaders with over 175 years of experience in construction reviewed and applied every step of the framework to ensure it is practical and easy to use for contractors.

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Date Created
2016

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Seeing and believing: examining the role of visualization technology in decision-making about the future

Description

Images are ubiquitous in communicating complex information about the future. From political messages to extreme weather warnings, they generate understanding, incite action, and inform expectations with real impact today. The future has come into sharp focus in recent years. Issues

Images are ubiquitous in communicating complex information about the future. From political messages to extreme weather warnings, they generate understanding, incite action, and inform expectations with real impact today. The future has come into sharp focus in recent years. Issues like climate change, gene editing, and smart cities are pushing policy makers, scientists, and designers to rethink how society plans and prepares for tomorrow. While academic and practice communities have increasingly turned their gaze toward the future, little attention is paid to how it is depicted and even less to the role visualization technologies play in depicting it. Visualization technologies are those that transform non-visual information into 2D or 3D imagery and generate depictions of certain phenomena, real or perceived. This research helps to fill this gap by examining the role visualization technologies play in how individuals know and make decisions about the future.

This study draws from three phases of research set in the context of urban development, where images of the future are generated by architects and circulated by built environment professionals to affect client and public decision-making. I begin with a systematic review of professional design literature to identify norms related to visualization. I then conduct in-depth interviews with expert architects to draw out how visualization technologies are used to influence client decision-making. I dive into how different tools manage the future and generate different forms of certainty, uncertainty, persuasion, and risk. Complementing the review and interviews is a case study on ASU at Mesa City Center, a development project aimed at revitalizing downtown Mesa, Arizona. Analysis highlights how project-specific visual tools affect decision-making and the role that client imagination and inference play in understanding and preference. This research unpacks the social, technical, and emotional knowledge embedded in visualization technologies and reveals how they affect decision-making. Information about the future is uniquely mediated by each technology with decision-making bound up in larger sociopolitical processes aimed at reducing uncertainty, building trust, and managing expectations. This suggests that the visual tools we use to depict the future are much more dynamic and influential than they are given credit for.

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Agent

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Date Created
2019