‘He seems odd’: The effects of risk-irrelevant information and actuarial risk estimates on mock jurors’ perceptions of sexual recidivism risk

Jennifer Kamorowski*, Karl Ask, Maartje Schreuder, Marko Jelicic, Corine de Ruiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Previous research has shown that mock and actual jurors give little weight to actuarial sexual offending recidivism risk estimates when making decisions regarding civil commitment for so-called sexually violent predators (SVPs). We hypothesized that non-risk related factors, such as irrelevant contextual information and jurors' information-processing style, would influence mock jurors' perceptions of sexual recidivism risk. This preregistered experimental study examined the effects of mock jurors' (N = 427) need for cognition (NFC), irrelevant contextual information in the form of the offender's social attractiveness, and an actuarial risk estimate on mock jurors' estimates of sexual recidivism risk related to a simulated SVP case vignette. Mock jurors exposed to negative risk-irrelevant characteristics of the offender estimated sexual recidivism risk as higher than mock jurors exposed to positive information about the offender. However, this effect was no longer significant after mock jurors had reviewed Static-99R actuarial risk estimate information. We found no support for the hypothesis that the level of NFC moderates the relationship between risk-irrelevant contextual information and risk estimates. Future research could explore additional individual characteristics or attitudes among mock jurors that may influence perceptions of sexual recidivism risk and insensitivity to actuarial risk estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalPsychology Crime & Law
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Actuarial risk assessment
  • mock jurors
  • need for cognition
  • sexually violent offenders
  • SVP civil commitment

Cite this