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Socio-economic status and race


The defendant who was Latino was hypothesized to be sentenced to more years in jail by jurors than the defendant who was simply white. It had been also hypothesized that the defendant would be sentenced to more years in jail if the victim was of higher socio-economic status (Businessman) than low socio-economic position (homeless man). There were 60 college older participants chosen randomly. Participants were given one of four scenarios that varied in race (white or Latino) of the defendant and socio-economic position (Business or Homeless) of the victim. The scenarios asked the individuals to recommend jail phrases for the given circumstance. As hypothesized the Latino defendants received much longer jail sentences than the white defendants and defendants received much longer phrases when the sufferer was a Business man than when the sufferer was a homeless man.

Socio-Economic Status and Contest as Affects on Jury Sentencing:

Does Socio-Economic Status and Race Impact a Jury Decision on Sentencing?

As the planet becomes more diverse we have to understand the bias factors that effect juror's decisions. It really is hard to asses these factors in real instances as no two conditions are truly similar and we can not simulate several situations. We used Jury simulations to test these unconscious bias people used when they advised sentencing for the defendants. The bias factors is seen in the news headlines when high profile cases come up. There are times when we believed defendants to be guilty but they were found innocent. Generally the defendants were either from high socio-economic position or contest was a factor. We conducted the jury simulation with four different situations to understand why bias. Predicated on earlier research we made two hypotheses. The first was that the Latino man would be sentenced to more years in jail than the white man. Matching to demographic studies minorities will be convicted of an crime and much more harshly sentenced than white Caucasian (Gleason, & Harris, 1975). The next hypothesis was that defendants would be sentenced to more years in prison when the victim was a Business man and less years when the victim was a homeless man. Predicated on prior studies cited in this statement it was predicted that there would be a main effect for every single variable and a significant discussion between these variables.

Defendants are sentenced to more years in prison when the sufferer is considered attractive to the jury than when the sufferer is considered unattractive (Landy, & Aronson, 1969.

Contest and Socio-economic status do notably bias jurors views toward the defendant and sufferer in a court case. People that have higher socio-economic status were seen as less guilty than people that have lower socio-economic status (Gleason, & Harris, 1975). Gleason and Harris's analysis was a 2x2 factorial design which mixed the defendants competition (white and dark-colored) and socio-economic status (middle income and lower course). Although in Gleason & Harris's analysis the socio-economic position variable is utilized for the defendant and in our study socio-economic position is used for the victim, you can still observe how socio-economic status takes on a guideline in people's wisdom regardless of whether it's the victim or defendant with high or low position. When the defendant is of high socio-economic status they are less inclined to be found guilty status (Gleason, & Harris, 1975). Also if the victim is of high status the defendant is much more likely to be found guilty and subject to a harsher sentence as this study shows.

A jury simulation completed by Gordon, Bindrim, McNicholas, & Walden survey 56 School students. Their survey was a jury simulation that researched how perceptions of blue-collar and white-collar crimes were tied to the defendant's contest. An equal amount of black and white participants received one of four scenarios were the information of the defendants contest (dark or white) and kind of criminal offense (burglary or embezzlement) committed varied. In the study the dark-colored defendant was sentenced to a longer prison term than the white defendant in offences which were considered blue-collar offences such as the burglary that was present in the study. Regarding the embezzlement the white defendant was sentenced to an extended jail term than the dark defendant. This study conclude that folks are more likely to be sentenced more harshly for offences that people can associate them with on the bases of things such as demographics and socio-economic position.

You can find many other studies which may have looked things that effect a juror's judgment of any defendant. One review "The Affect of the type of the Offender and His Sufferer on the Decisions of Simulated Jurors" completed by Landy & Aronson looked at the character of the criminal and defendant and exactly how it influences juror's decisions. They conducted two version of the test and likened results. In both first and second version of the test the victim was are accountable to half the individuals as unattractive also to the spouse as attractive. For the next version the type of the defendant also varied in figure some attractive, unattractive, and natural. Jurors are more likely to check out a defendant more adversely when they see the sufferer as attractive and less likely to view the defendant negatively when the victim is unattractive (Landy, & Aronson, 1969).



Participants were 60 University or college students. Members were approached arbitrarily and asked to volunteer in this analysis. The Individuals ranged in get older approximately 18-24 years of age and were University students from around the united states.


Each Participant was presented with a brief jury simulation scenario (See Number 1). There have been two independent variables that composed four different situations. The opening paragraph informed members that the questionnaires were anonymous and they might take as enough time as they need to decide. It also up to date participants to give to give their personal judgment not bias of what others may think and phrase defendant without parole to a certain period of time in prison. The final paragraph restated the actual opening paragraph had stated. All cases were similar in location of event, action leading up to incident, details of how accident happened, and the fatal end result resulting in the victim's fatality. The scenarios were all male motorists driving down a streets at night distracted that strike and wiped out a pedestrian crossing the street that had not been by using a crosswalk. The two variables that were changed were the defendant's contest (White Caucasian, Latino) and victim's status (Business, Homeless) man.


There have been four sets of 15 participants designated randomly based on their researcher. Each group was given separate scenarios to learn and make a decision on.


There were three experts who approached participants in the field. One researcher implemented two scenarios as the other two research workers administered one situation each. College or university students were approached randomly by the experts and asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. For instance some members were asked before the start of the lecture to complete one of the researcher's cases from the scenarios of private questionnaires. Members were instructed to learn through the situation and make a personal view of the numbers of years in prison the defendant should be sentenced to. Once the participant was done writing down their word on the questionnaire they placed it in a large manila envelope to protect their anonymity and privacy.


A 2-way 2x2 analysis of variance was set you back determine if the sentence length was affected by socio-economic status or by race. There was a main result present for the victim's socio-economic status. The prison sentence directed at the defendant when the sufferer was a Business man (M= 8. 73, SE=. 69) was significantly much longer than when the victim was a homeless man (M= 6. 67, SE=. 69) (F (1, 56) = 4. 45, p <. 05). A second main result was present for the defendant's contest. The prison sentence directed at the Latino defendant (M=9. 2, SE =. 69) was longer than the jail sentence given to the White defendant (M = 6. 2, SE =. 69) (F (1, 56) = 9. 37, p <. 05). There is no significant discussion between competition and status (F (1, 56) =. 78, p >. 05) (See Number 2). In looking at shape 2 we can see the lines are nearly parallel which will be a visually sign that there not significant conversation.


There have been significant main results for both parameters (Contest and Position). When the defendant's competition was Latino their phrase was significantly much longer than when the defendant's competition was White. For status the defendant's sentence was significantly much longer when the victim was a business man than when the sufferer was a homeless man. There was no significant conversation between contest and position.

Support for the two hypotheses can be discussed by the results of past research on jury simulation presented in this article. In this study it was predicted that there would be a main effect for every of the factors and a significant interaction between these variables. Although there is not really a significant conversation in this research unlike some similar studies which resulted in significant interactions, there is a main impact for each variable. No two studies will ever be the same making it hard to absolutely forecast the results and interactions. The variable of race demonstrated that Latino men were sentenced to more years in jail when compared to a white man. For the changing of status defendants were sentenced to more years in jail when the sufferer was a business man than when the sufferer was a homeless man. Within this study competition was the more significant variable. A dark defendant was seen regarded as more likely to do it again a crime when compared to a white defendant (Gordon, Bindrim, McNicholas, & Walden, 1988). Thus to state the contest of the defendant experienced a greater effect on the jurors to sentence more harshly than the effect of the victims social-economic status.

There were several limits in this research. The first restriction is the external validity because of the inhabitants size and selection. With the test size (N =60) College or university students it is hard to generalize the conclusions to all possible American jurors. This test size would need to be bigger and cover a wider age group across America. In future research we could collaborate with Universities across the land to conduct the study over a much lager size. With this collaboration a much bigger sample size that might be spread out across the Nation could create a more generalized picture of the bias that switches into juror's decisions. Also we're able to use a neutral study with an identical sample size to compare to the analysis. The neutral study would the same incident but it might be a person driving a vehicle killed another person and there would be not competition, position, or any other demographics. Another recommendation for future studies is always to obtain certain demographics from the individuals' (age, race, religion, politics party, etc. ). I'd ask all participants two question regarding their experience with the US justice system. The first question would be if they have ever been convicted of an crime in case so have they ever before served amount of time in prison. Those two questions are essential as they might play in to the participant's decision when assessing their thoughts of the defendant and emotions toward the US justice system. With all of this said the more demographics and questions we ask the better we can understand the precise bias that play into jurors decisions when making a judgment on the victim.


  • Gleason, J. , & Harris, V. (1975). Contest, socio-economic position, and identified similarity as determinants of judgments by simulated jurors. Community Action and Personality, 3(2), 175-180.
  • Gordon, R. , Bindrim, T. , McNicholas, M. , & Walden, T. (1988). Perceptions of blue-collar and white-collar crime: The effect of defendant race on simulated juror decisions. The Journal of Friendly Mindset, 128(2), 191-197.
  • Landy, D. , & Aronson, E. (1969). The Affect of the Character of the Offender and His Victim on the Decisions of Simulated Jurors. Journal of Experimental Sociable Mindset 5, 141-152.
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