Effect of criminal defendant's history of childhood sexual abuse and personality disorder diagnosis on juror decision-making
Ratliff, Ebony Burrell
Fee, Virginia E.
This study investigated whether a defendant?s history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and/or personality disorder (PD) diagnosis affected juror decision-making in a child sexual abuse trial. The personality disorders in the study were borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (APD). Participants were 186 college students who read a summary of the trial and then made various juror decisions. The defendant?s CSA history, alone or combined with PD diagnosis, did not affect guilt ratings or sentence recommendations, indicating that jurors did not automatically assume that a defendant who had been abused as a child was guilty (as an adult) of being an abuser. However, when the defendant had a PD diagnosis, there were higher guilt ratings than when there was no PD diagnosis. PD diagnosis was the best predictor of guilt ratings, suggesting that jurors perceive defendants more negatively if they have borderline or antisocial personality disorder.