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Stalking cases can often be ambiguous, which makes it difficult for jurors to determine if the defendant crossed the line from romantic courtship to stalking. The present research used a mock juror experiment to assess the effect of victim attractiveness and defendant attractiveness on juror decision-making in a stalking case. Community member participants (N = 296) read a stalking trial summary in which we manipulated attractiveness of the victim and defendant via images and asked participants to rate perceptions such as credibility, sympathy, and stalking typicality. We found a main effect of defendant attractiveness such that a more attractive defendant led to more pro-defendant ratings (e.g., higher defendant credibility, higher sympathy for the defendant). Also, we found a main effect of victim attractiveness such that a more attractive victim led to more pro-victim ratings (e.g., higher victim credibility, lower victim blame). Further, we also found that women were more anti-defendant than men; women provided lower ratings of defendant credibility, sympathy for the defendant, and romantic courtship typicality. However, the predicted effect of attractiveness on verdict was not supported. Results provide insight into how jurors’ perceptions of attractiveness of both the victim and defendant play a role in decision-making in stalking.



Thesis Comittee

Nesa E. Wasarhaley (Thesis Director)

Jonathan Holmes

Brendan Morse

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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