Studies have demonstrated that the mere mention of criminal risk factors for future violent criminal behavior predicted decisions to detain or release not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) patients following their review board hearing. We looked to further our understanding of review board decisions by assessing the influence of the mention of risk factors as well as psychopathic traits, protective factors, and the moderating effect of physical attractiveness. To this end, we coded the mention of risk factors, psychopathic traits, and protective factors in clinical reports of 90 former male NCRMD patients and rated their attractiveness on a scale of 1–10, of which 62 cases adhered to all inclusion and exclusion criteria. Analyses demonstrated that the mention of Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) items significantly increased the odds of being detained following a review board hearing, while attractiveness predicted decisions to discharge the patient. In addition, an interaction effect between PCL-R item-mentions and attractiveness was identified, such that highly attractive patients with high levels of PCL-R item-mentions were more likely to be detained following review board hearings. These results further our understanding of what factors influence review board decisions and demonstrate how extraneous factors can moderate the influence of risk-relevant information. Ultimately these results speak to the need to further educate decision-makers on evidence-based risk and protective factors and furthermore, how to avoid the pitfalls of allowing irrelevant information, such as physical attractiveness, from influencing such critical decisions affecting this vulnerable population.

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Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice
Department of Psychology

Denomme, W.J. (William James), Curno, J. (Jamie), & Forth, A. (2020). Psychopathic Traits, Risk and Protective Factors, and Attractiveness in Forensic Psychiatric Patients: Their Role in Review Board Dispositions. Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice. doi:10.1080/24732850.2020.1717904