Do Defendant Tattoos Unfairly Bias Juror Perceptions of Criminal Defendants?

Brown, Kelly (2013). Do Defendant Tattoos Unfairly Bias Juror Perceptions of Criminal Defendants? Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Brown, Kelly
Thesis Title Do Defendant Tattoos Unfairly Bias Juror Perceptions of Criminal Defendants?
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-10-09
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Blake McKimmie
Total pages 137
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Research has shown stereotypes about several defendant characteristics can unfairly bias juror decision-making. However, little is known about the potential for tattoos to bias how defendants are perceived. Two studies investigated whether defendant tattoos unfairly bias jurors decision-making. Study 1 explored which characteristics of tattoos are associated with negative stereotypes. Participants (N = 30) viewed photographs of five men digitally altered to manipulate tattoo style (prison or modern) and location (face and neck or arm) in a repeated measures design. As predicted, individuals with prison style tattoos were perceived more negatively than those with modern style tattoos, especially when located on the face and neck compared to the arm. These results show that the style and location of tattoos on individuals influence how negatively they are perceived on a range of stereotypes. Study 2 then investigated whether these tattoo-related stereotypes bias juror decision-making in the context of a mock criminal trial. Participants (N = 120) saw a photo of the defendant who either had a prison style tattoo or no tattoo, and read a scenario describing a physical assault (with either strong or weak evidence). Contrary to predictions, the presence of a defendant tattoo did not directly influence mock jurors’ verdicts. Perceptions of defendant dangerousness did, however, mediate the relationship between the presence of a tattoo and mock jurors’ guilt decisions. Both studies suggest mock jurors hold negative stereotypes about defendants with prison style tattoos, which can indirectly negatively influence their decision-making. Implications of these findings for criminal trials involving tattooed defendants and areas for future research are discussed.
Keyword defendant tattoos
juror perceptions

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Created: Wed, 11 Jun 2014, 10:44:55 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology