Previous research has examined separately the influence of defendant race and victim physical attractiveness on juror decision-making in sexual assault trials. The current study sought to examine the combined effects of defendant race and victim physical attractiveness in a trial of alleged acquaintance sexual assault. Mock jurors read a trial transcript in which the defendant race and victim physical attractiveness were manipulated via photographs. Results demonstrated that women were not influenced by victim attractiveness, but that men were more certain of the defendant guilt when the victim was unattractive. Defendant race and victim attractiveness interacted with regards to victim responsibility ratings – when the defendant was White, attractive victims were rated as more responsible for the alleged assault than unattractive victims; this effect was reversed for trials with a Black defendant and nonexistent for trials with an Aboriginal Canadian defendant.

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Keywords defendant race, juror decision-making, sexual assault trials, victim attractiveness
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2014.915325
Journal Psychology, Crime and Law
Citation
Maeder, E.M, Yamamoto, S. (Susan), & Saliba, P. (Paula). (2015). The influence of defendant race and victim physical attractiveness on juror decision-making in a sexual assault trial. Psychology, Crime and Law, 21(1), 62–79. doi:10.1080/1068316X.2014.915325