Cox, J., Edens, J.F., Rulseh, A., & Clark, J.W. (2016). Juror perceptions of psychopathy interpersonal-affective traits predict sentence severity in a white collar criminal case. Psychology, Crime & Law, 22, 1-20.
Recent research has demonstrated jurors’ perceptions of a defendant’s psychopathic traits may impact their sentencing recommendations in death penalty and sexually violent predator civil commitment trials. Given the increasing media attention on white-collar crimes, the huge economic impact of such crimes on society, and the theoretical relationship between psychopathy and this type of crime, this research sought to investigate how juror perceptions of a white-collar defendant’s psychopathic traits may influence sentencing recommendations. Jury-eligible community members were given a brief description of a white-collar crime and asked to provide the judge with sentencing recommendations. Results largely supported previous findings in that perceiving a defendant to be highly psychopathic, particularly in terms of affective traits, predicted more punitive sentencing recommendations. Specifically, perceptions of the defendant’s remorselessness, lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility incrementally predicted harsher sentencing recommendations. These data lend support to the hypothesis that lay perceptions of psychopathic traits influence sentencing recommendations in white-collar criminal cases.