Modern Psychological Studies
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
This research examined the effects of victim bias on the determination of the length of prison sentence given to perpetrators convicted of assault and battery. Three victim characteristics (gender, race, and sexual orientation) were targeted to determine whether they would evoke discrimination in sentencing. Forty subjects were asked to read nine brief crime scenarios and impose prison sentences on the convicted perpetrators of each of the crimes. Three target scenarios were intermixed within the nine crime scenarios. They depicted the crimes of assault and battery of a victim who was either black or white or homosexual. The targeted scenarios were all the same, except that for half of the subjects, the victims were female; for the other half, the victims were male. It was expected that the perpetrators of assault and battery against the two minority groups (the groups with black and homosexual victims) would receive more lenient prison sentences because of the victim characteristics. It was also expected that, overall, perpetrators of crimes against female victims would receive harsher sentences, but that differences would still result due to victim characteristics. Results indicated that female subjects gave significantly harsher sentences than male subjects. Perpetrators of female victims also received harsher sentences from both male and female subjects. However, an interaction showed that while males showed no differences in their sentences as a function of victim characteristics, females gave harsher sentences when the victims were female than when they were male for both white and black victims, but not for homosexual victims.
BF1 .M63 v. 1 no. 1 1992
"The effect of victim bias on length of defendant sentencing,"
Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 1
, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol1/iss1/5