Is it all in the details? Effect of psychopathy communication format on laypeople's perceptions of legal outcomes

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Maltais, Natasha Stephanie-Marie




Past findings that laypeople's perceptions of psychopathy can negatively influence trial outcomes are exacerbated by the fact that there are no standards for how psychopathy- related information should be presented in risk assessment reports. This problem results in inconsistencies and misinterpretation of information by jurors. The current studies explored how different ways of communicating psychopathy evidence affect decisions concerning risk, management, and treatment amenability among laypeople in two online studies of community members. When psychopathy scores were low, the formatting of information did not seem to matter for decision-making. However, when psychopathy scores were high, providing more information appeared to play more of a role in final outcomes. Importantly, risk level mattered over psychopathy information. These results suggest that the way psychopathy is discussed in legal settings may need to be altered, with focus placed on the relevancy of including psychopathy information in specific contexts.


Psychology - Experimental
Criminology and Penology




Carleton University

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