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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Lily Cheyanne Munavu
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Title: The Effects of Defendant Race, Psychological Expert Witness Race, and Racially Salient Psychological Expert Testimony on Juror Decision Making
Dr. Lonnie Duncan, Chair
Dr. Joseph Morris
Dr. Charles Crawford
Date: Thursday, July 10, 2008 1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
The present study examined the effects of defendant race, psychological expert witness race, and the racial salience of a psychological expert witness’s testimony on juror decisions. Three hundred and three sophomores and juniors were randomly assigned to one of eight conditions that varied the race of the defendant (Black or White), the race of the psychological expert witness (Black or White), and the racial salience of the expert witness testimony (racially relevant or not racially relevant). Participants were asked to review (online) the case documents of a criminal case in which the defendant was charged with battery and robbery. Included in the case documents were summaries of the prosecution and defense arguments, a description of the psychological expert witness testifying on behalf of the defense, a transcript of the psychological expert witness’s testimony, jury instructions, and legal definitions of the charges brought against the defendant. Participants rendered verdicts for both charges, as well as rated their perceptions of the defendant, eyewitnesses, and psychological expert witness. Finally, participants completed the Modern Racism Scale (MRS) (McConahay, 1986). While none of the original hypotheses were supported, there were several significant findings. Females with higher MRS scores were more likely to render a guilty verdict when the defendant and expert witness were Black than when they were both White (on the charge of robbery). Participants with higher MRS scores were more likely to rate the expert witness as being poorly educationally qualified and having an unprofessional manner when he was Black. In addition, participants with higher MRS scores were more likely to have perceived the defendant as the type of individual to engage in the crimes in which he was accused when he was Black than when he was White. Finally, participants were more likely to rate the psychological expert witness as unimpressive when his testimony was racially salient.