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Influencing Expert Judgement: Attributions of Crime Causality

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 16 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 126-143
Jennifer Murray; Mary E. Thomson; David J. Cooke; Kathy E. Charles
Date Published
February 2011
18 pages
This study compared the effect of attributional manipulations on experts' ratings of offenders' dangerousness and responsibility and those of semi-experts and laypersons.
Results of the study indicate that attributional manipulations have a greater effect on the judgements of experts and laypersons than those of semi-experts. Across all levels of expertise, offenders were found to be more responsible for their actions and more dangerous to others when their behavior was considered to be affected by internal as opposed to external factors. Data for this study came from 55 participants, 12 experts, 21 semi-experts, and 22 laypersons. Participants were asked to read nine crime scenarios and rate each offender's level of dangerousness, responsibility, and seriousness of the crime, and to suggest a suitable sentence length based on the ratings. The aim of the study was to determine if experts would be less susceptible to internal and external manipulations of the crime scenarios than semi-experts and laypersons. Analyses of the results indicate similarities in the judgements of experts and laypersons, with semi-experts less likely to be influenced in their judgements by internal and external manipulations. Further research in this area is recommended. Tables, figures, and references