Date Approved

2018

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Natalie Dove

Second Advisor

Carol Freedman-Doan

Abstract

It is obvious that there remains a difference in punishments for the same crime in our criminal justice system. However, it is less obvious as to why there lies such a difference. Is it racism? Or is there a difference in opinion based on social dominance and authoritarian ideologies? The participants in the current study are 252 Psychology students attending Eastern Michigan University in the 2017/2018 school year. It is hypothesized that those who rank higher in SDO and RWA will endorse harsher punishments for alleged criminals. It is also hypothesized that participants will endorse harsher punishments for African American defendants than for Caucasian defendants. Various Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests were run to test the hypotheses, analyzing the effects of race of the defendant as well as the effects of SDO and RWA measure averages among participants. The findings of this study do not indicate a statistical significance for the first hypothesis, meaning that those who rank higher in RWA and SDO do not endorse harsher punishments for alleged criminals. However, there are statistically significant results supporting a racial divide that is contrary to the hypothesis, meaning that participants did not endorse harsher punishments for African American defendants than Caucasian defendants. This project aims to inform further studies involving jury decision making and possible reform of the criminal justice system.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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