Cox, J., *Meaux, L. T., Kois, L., Jensen, C. (2021). Now see this? Forensic evaluator opinions regarding direct observation when evaluating competency to proceed. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.
Despite ample best practice recommendations for competency to proceed (CTP) evaluations, direct observation of defendant-attorney interactions is an unstudied methodological technique for assessing defendants’ abilities to assist and consult with their attorneys. This study surveyed 57 forensic evaluators regarding their history and opinions of direct observation as a component of CTP evaluations. Overall, results indicated the majority of forensic evaluators had engaged in direct observation on at least one occasion, with some practicing this approach in up to 85% of their evaluations. A minority endorsed or expressed concerns regarding this practice (e.g., third-party effects, violations of attorney-client privilege). Results of this study provide a preliminary indication of how evaluators perceive the potential utility and hazards of direct observation. In response, we offer a framework for approaching direct observation and highlight the need for additional research examining the impact of this methodological technique for CTP evaluations.
Marissa Stanziani, Adam Coffey, Liz Bownes, Lauren Meaux, and Dr. Cox Published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy!
Cox, J., *Stanziani, M., *Coffey, C. A., *Bownes, E., Brooks-Holliday, S. F., & *Meaux, L.T. (2021). “Your rights end where mine begin:” A mixed-methods study of Moral Foundations Theory and support for bathroom bills. Sexuality Research and Social Policy.
As nearly half U.S. states have considered legislation that would restrict public restroom usage based on sex, in recent years this issue has come to the forefront of public discourse. To inform this policy, it is imperative to examine opinions regarding bathroom bills and how these opinions are shaped by individual differences. The current mixed-methods study examined the relationship between Moral Foundations Theory, bathroom bill opinions, and participant perceptions of their own support and opposition to this type of legislation. Undergraduate students at a large U.S. public university completed the Moral Foundations Questionnaire and indicated their opinion of a hypothetical bathroom bill. Subsequently, researchers interviewed 22 participants from this group about their perceptions of this bill and the factors that shaped these opinions. Approximately two-thirds of participants supported instituting a hypothetical bathroom bill. Regardless of political affiliation, the moral pillars Purity/Sanctity and Authority/Respect were associated with support for the bill and Care/Harm predicted opposition to the bill. Qualitative analyses of participant interviews provided further understanding of why participants supported (e.g., safety, fear, sacrifice) or opposed (e.g., equality, bill is unnecessary/impractical to implement) the bill. Participants acknowledged their opinions of the bill were likely shaped by personal relationships (e.g., with family members, friends) and their experiences (e.g., traveling, parochial education). The data suggest Moral Foundations Theory may be one framework to
understand differences in opinions regarding bathroom bill legislation.
Kois, L., *Meaux, L.T., Cox, J., & Kelley, S. (2021). Evaluators' experiences with combined competence to proceed and mental state evaluations. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.
Combined evaluations of competence to proceed (CTP) and mental state at the time of the offense (MSO) are commonplace, yet underexamined in the literature. Given the high stakes faced by defendants and substantial arguments that can be made for and against combined evaluations, it is imperative that we understand how practitioners navigate this process. In this exploratory practitioner study (N = 43), we surveyed professional practices and beliefs concerning combined evaluations as well as how, per practitioners’ self-reports, they were influenced by jurisdictional policy. As is recommended in nascent areas of research, we undertook both quantitative and qualitative methods. Many evaluators reported a disconnect between the spirit of adjudicative competence and the combined CTP/MSO evaluation process. On the whole, evaluators reported that combined evaluations accounted for 29% of their CTP and/or MSO referrals, but only 10 (23.3%) reported that their jurisdiction specifically addressed how to conduct them. They tended to endorse that seemingly incompetent defendants cannot consent to MSO evaluations, and so MSO reports should not be submitted for these defendants. They provided some consensus that seemingly incompetent defendants can provide useful information later integrated into MSO evaluations and that CTP and MSO opinions should be documented separately. We recommend that jurisdictions include statutory language directing evaluators to refrain from submitting MSO opinions when they believe defendants are incompetent, for jurisdictions to explicitly require separate CTP and MSO reports and to distinguish disclosure rules for each report type, and further professional discussion about the nature and process of combined evaluations.
Campbell, L., Knauss, L., & *Meaux, L.T. (2021). The American Psychological Association ethics code & legal statutes regarding sexual boundary violations: History and current status. In A. Steinberg, J. L. Alpert, & C. A. Courtois (Eds.), Sexual Boundary Violations in Psychotherapy: Facing Therapist Indiscretions, Transgressions, and Misconduct.
*Meaux, L.T., *Doran, S.C., & Cox, J. (2020). Aberration of mind or soul: The role of media in perceptions of mass violence. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 12, 209-222.
Unconscious biases against certain groups aid in forming assumptions which may be promulgated in the USA via popular news media linking rare but memorable violent acts with specific groups. However, the relationship between marginalized group association, assumptions regarding the motive for violent acts and individual media consumption has never been directly examined. This study aims to directly examine this relationship. In the present study, individuals read a vignette of a mass shooting in which the perpetrator’s implied religion (i.e. Islam or unknown religion) was manipulated. Participants then indicated their assumptions regarding motive (i.e. terrorism or mental illness) and personal media consumption habits. Contrary to hypotheses, differences in assumed motive based on implied religion were not found; participants were not more likely to associate an assumed Muslim perpetrator with terrorism as a motive or consider the assumed non-Muslim perpetrator to be mentally ill. These unexpected findings are discussed in the context of the data-collection period, which coincidentally overlapped with a well-publicized act of domestic terrorism that led to a unique national debate regarding biased news coverage and associations between religion, ethnicity, terrorism and mental illness.
Lauren Meaux, Marissa Stanziani, Adam Coffey, and Dr. Cox Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence!
Cox, J., *Meaux, L.T., *Stanziani, M., *Coffey, C.A., & Daquin, J. (2019). Partiality in prosecution? Discretionary prosecutorial decision making and intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
In the United States, prosecutors are typically allotted a large amount of discretion when litigating a criminal case. Although some level of discretion is necessary for various reasons (e.g., lack of resources), concerns have arisen in both scholarly and popular discourse that prosecutorial discretion remains generally unchecked. Furthermore, research suggests prosecutors may be influenced by extralegal factors when making decisions about how to proceed with criminal charges. In this study, prosecutors responded to a case of alleged intimate partner violence, in which the sex and sexual orientation of the defendant and victim were manipulated. Neither sex nor sexual orientation impacted prosecutor choice to proceed with charges, the severity of the charge selected, or the harshness of the plea bargain offered. However, prosecutors were more willing to proceed without the victim’s cooperation when the victim was female and perceived heterosexual males as more aggressive than heterosexual females. These data suggest prosecutorial decision making in cases of intimate partner violence may not be unduly influenced by defendant/victim sex and sexual orientation.
Cox, J., Fairfax-Columbo, J., DeMatteo, D., Vitacco, M.J., *Kopkin, M.R., Titcomb Parrott, C., *Bownes, E. (2018). An update on the role of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide and Historical Clinical Risk Management-20 in United States case law. Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
An individual's risk for future violent behavior may be considered in various legal contexts, including civil commitment, criminal sentencing, or suitability for parole. Among the assessment tools forensic evaluators use to assess violence risk are the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG; Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998) and the Historical Clinical Risk Managment‐20 (HCR‐20)/Historical Clinical Risk Management‐20, Version 3 (HCR‐20V3) (Webster, Douglas, Eaves, & Hart, 1997 and Douglas, Hart, Webster, & Belfrage, 2013, respectively). Previous surveys and case law research suggest that these measures are widely used and perceived to be useful in aiding forensic clinicians. This study provides an update to Vitacco, Erickson, Kurus, and Apple (2012) and examines the use of the HCR‐20 and VRAG in United States case law. A LexisNexis review revealed 134 cases decided between 1 January 2010 and 21 December 2016 that included the HCR‐20, VRAG, or both. Results revealed that these measures are typically introduced by the prosecution to inform opinions regarding general violence risk. In addition, consistent with previous research, these data suggest the introduction of the HCR‐20 and VRAG is rarely challenged and, when challenged, these challenges are rarely successful. However, data suggest that courts and parole boards may focus on specific risk factors (e.g., lack of insight) at the expense of other, more objective factors. Finally, we offer suggestions for clinicians who have transitioned to the newest version of the HCR‐20.
*Meaux, L.T., Cox,. J., & *Kopkin, M.R. (2018). Sentencing, sex, and selective chivalry: The impact of sex on juror decision making in an ambiguous assault case. Psychiatry, Psychology, and Law.
In sexually motivated crimes, female defendants are treated more leniently and female jurors are more punitive, relative to their male counterparts. However, few studies have examined the impact and interactions of juror, defendant and victim sex in non-sexually motivated crimes. In this study, mock jurors responded to an assault case in which the sex of both the defendant and the victim was manipulated, creating four conditions. The female jurors reported higher confidence in a guilty verdict, regardless of the defendant's and victim's sex. Additionally, the mock jurors – particularly the females – were more confident in a guilty verdict when the victim was female, regardless of the defendant's sex. Finally, the mock jurors recommended a harsher sentence for the female defendant – but only when the victim was male. These results are discussed in the context of understanding sex and gender within the criminal justice system and potential implications for juror decision-making.
*Meaux, L. T., Mitchell, K. R., & Cohen, A. S. (2018). Blunted vocal affect and expression not associated with schizophrenia: A computerized acoustic analysis of ambiguous speech. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 83, 84-88.
Patients with schizophrenia are consistently rated by clinicians as having high levels of blunted vocal affect and alogia. However, objective technologies have often failed to substantiate these abnormalities. It could be the case that negative symptoms are context-dependent. The present study examined speech elicited under conditions demonstrated to exacerbate thought disorder. The Rorschach Test was administered to 36 outpatients with schizophrenia and 25 nonpatient controls. Replies to separate “perceptual” and “memory” phases were analyzed using validated acoustic analytic methods. Compared to nonpatient controls, schizophrenia patients did not display abnormal speech expression on objective measure of blunted vocal affect or alogia. Moreover, clinical ratings of negative symptoms were not significantly correlated with objective measures. These findings suggest that in patients with schizophrenia, vocal affect/alogia is generally unremarkable under ambiguous conditions. Clarifying the nature of blunted vocal affect and alogia, and how objective measures correspond to what clinicians attend to when making clinical ratings are important directions for future research.
*Coffey, C.A., Cox, J., & Kopkin, M.R. (2018). Examining the Relationships between the Triarchic Psychopathy Constructs and Behavioral Deviance in a Community Sample. Journal of Personality Disorders, 32, 57-69.
Few studies have examined the extent to which psychopathic traits relate to the commission of mild to moderate acts of deviance, such as vandalism and minor traffic violations. Given that psychopathy is now studied in community populations, the relationship between psychopathic traits and less severe deviant behaviors, which are more normative among noninstitutionalized samples, warrants investigation. The current study examined the relationships between the triarchic model of psychopathy (Patrick, Fowles & Krueger, 2009) and seven forms of deviant behavior (drug use, alcohol use, theft, vandalism, school misconduct, assault, and general deviance) in a nationally representative sample. Triarchic disinhibition positively predicted each form of normative deviance. Boldness positively predicted drug and alcohol use as well as general deviance, while meanness negatively predicted school misconduct. Boldness and disinhibition also positively predicted overall lifetime engagement in deviant behavior. Implications are discussed, including support of the role of boldness within the psychopathy construct.
Cox, J., *Kopkin, M.R., Rankin, J., Tomeny, T.S. & *Coffey, C.A. (2018). The influence of psychopathic traits on parenting style. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27, 2305-2314.
Surprisingly little research has examined the role of parental psychopathic traits in the parent-child relationship. We aimed to gain a better understanding of how parental psychopathic traits are related to parenting style and to determine whether specific parental psychopathic traits are differentially related to parenting behaviors. A sample of male and female parents from a community population completed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) as well as a modified version of the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ). Path analyses predicting PAQ subscales from PPI-R factors indicated poor model fit. However, path analyses examining PAQ and PPI-R subscales indicated good model fit, with PPI-R subscales explaining 20–25% of variance in PAQ subscale scores. Surprisingly, PAQ Authoritative parenting was significantly predicted by the greatest number of PPI-R facets, including Carefree Nonplanfulness, Coldheartedness, Rebellious Nonconformity (all positive) and Fearlessness (negative). Rebellious Nonconformity also positively predicted PAQ Permissive parenting, and negatively predicted PAQ Authoritative Parenting. Results suggest parental psychopathic traits may be associated with specific parenting styles, although future research should consider potential moderating variables.
Tsang, S., Salekin, R.T., *Coffey, C.A. & Cox, J. (2017). A comparison of self-report measures of psychopathy among non-forensic samples using item response theory analyses. Psychological Assessment, 30, 311-327.
This study investigated how well components of the psychopathy trait are measured among college students with the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP), the Personality Assessment Inventory–Antisocial Features Scale (PAI ANT), the Psychopathic Personality Inventory–Short Form (PPI-SF), and the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale-II (SRP-II). Using Samejima (1969)’s graded response model (GRM), the subscales were found to vary in their ability to measure the corresponding latent traits. The LSRP primary psychopathy factor is more precise in measuring the latent trait than the secondary psychopathy factor. The PAI ANT items show coherent psychometric properties, whereas the PPI-SF factors differ in their precision to measure the corresponding traits. The SRP-II factors are effective in discriminating among individuals with varying levels of the latent traits. Results suggest that multiple self-report measures should be used to tap the multidimensional psychopathy construct. However, there are concerns with respect to using negatively worded items to assess certain aspects of psychopathy.
Ruiz, M., Hopwood, C., Edens, J.F., Morey, L.C., & Cox, J. (2018). Initial development of pathological personality traits domain measures using the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment.
This study set out to create measures of the five personality disorder trait domains outlined in Section III of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) from the Personality Assessment Inventory items (Morey, 2007). Rasch rating scale model analyses and classical test theory analyses were applied to existing data sets (N = 3,877; community, clinical, offender, college) to identify relevant items. Five scales were created that had acceptable unidimensionality and generally conformed to Rasch model expectations. The ability of the items to cover the underlying construct and their differential item function by sex were acceptable, though a few of the proposed scales had weaknesses in these areas. Internal consistency was acceptable for all scales and the factor structure was generally consistent with expectations, but some scales had concerning cross-loadings. Preliminary analyses demonstrated validity of the scales in relation to history of mental health treatment/current symptoms, substance abuse, and, for one scale, violent rearrests. There were small-to-moderate associations with noncorresponding traits, suggesting a degree of saturation with general personality impairment. The relevance of the proposed scales for the assessment of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition personality disorder is discussed.
*Stanziani, M.R. & Cox, J. (2018). The failure of all mothers or the mother of all failures?: Juror perceptions of failure to protect laws. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Failure to protect laws have been an area of interest among legal scholars, child and domestic violence advocates, and the social work and psychology fields with varying focuses on the societal underpinnings of the laws and their application. Despite the pervasive legal literature on “mother blaming” and the revictimization of battered women that these laws engender, few studies have empirically examined if “mother blaming” occurs in these cases, or if battered women are treated more harshly. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of defendant sex and presence of domestic violence on mock juror decision making in a failure to protect case. The influences of juror sex on decision making were also examined. Jury eligible community members read a summary of a case in which the defendant was charged with failing to protect their child from a third-party abuser. The sex of the defendant and the presence of domestic violence were manipulated. Participants then rendered a verdict, provided sentencing recommendations, and responded to attitudinal questions about the defendant and perpetrator. Mock jurors were more likely to find the defendant guilty and view the defendant more negatively when the defendant had been the victim of domestic violence. Defendant sex did not affect outcome measures; however, female jurors were more punitive than male jurors. Results are discussed in terms of “victim blaming” and labeling theory of intimate partner violence.
*Stanziani, M.R., Cox, J., & *Coffey, C.A. (2017). Adding insult to injury: Sex, sexual orientation, and juror decision making in a case of intimate partner violence. Journal of Homosexuality, 65, 1325-1350.
Societal definitions of intimate partner violence (IPV) are highly gendered and heteronormative, resulting in dissonance regarding cases of same-sex IPV. This study explored perceptions of IPV when the context of the case is inconsistent with societal norms regarding sex and sexuality. Mock jurors read a vignette describing a case of alleged IPV in which the sex and sexual orientation of the defendant were manipulated. Participants (N = 415) rendered a verdict and provided ratings of the defendant, victim, and case. Results suggest participants were more confident in a guilty verdict when the defendant was male, compared to female. Further, male defendants were perceived as more morally responsible, but only when the victim was female. Perceptions regarding the crime suggest violence perpetrated by a man against a woman is viewed more adversely than any other condition. Data are discussed in terms of implications for legal decision-makers and public policy.