The current study examined the effect of publicity about Canada's recent Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) Reform Act - legislation surrounding accused in insanity cases that purportedly aims to enhance public safety - on juror decision-making. In line with agenda-setting theory, we expected that NCR Reform Act publicity might reinforce certain fears about the insanity defence, dependent on whether it had either a positive or negative evaluative slant. Contrary to previous work on the insanity defence, participants in this study generally favoured a NCR verdict. The evaluative slant of the NCR publicity had no effect on verdict decisions or insanity defence attitudes, but there was a significant difference in participants' evaluations of the fairness of the Reform Act, such that those exposed to a positive or control article viewed the act as fairer than those exposed to a negative article. This study may aid future researchers in evaluating potential unintended consequences of the NCR Reform Act.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Agenda-setting, Insanity defence, Juror decision-making, Not criminally responsible reform act
Persistent URL
Journal International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Maeder, E.M, Yamamoto, S. (Susan), & Zannella, L. (Lesley). (2016). Putting negative attitudes on the agenda? Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act publicity and juror decision-making. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 49, 154–159. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2016.08.010