Criminal identity: The key to situational construals in mock criminal court cases
A number of researchers have explored legal decision making, attempting to predict factors that influence sentencing. For example, Dunning (1986) focused on one major factor, the decision maker’s construal of the crime. Dunning’s research demonstrated the importance of construals (filling in of information) in sentencing decisions; however, he was unable to identify what predicts these construals. Here we apply affect control theory to predict construals. Study 1 focuses on mock jurors’ sentencing of a guilty offender; it tests hypotheses generated from affect control theory that link emotion displays to construals through inferences about the criminal’s identity. Path analyses demonstrate that construals can be explained by inferences about the criminal’s identity. Study 2 introduces concrete information about prior record. Results suggest that identity inferences still remain important in forming construals when prior record information is available. These studies provide more evidence for the importance of social perceptions in legal decision making. © 2001 Taylor & Francis.
Tsoudis, O; Smith-Lovin, L
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