The Role Of Schema Congruence In Mock Jurors’ Judgments Of Sexual Assault Cases

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ciera Jade Ferrone (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Twila Wingrove

Abstract: People use schemas to categorize their informational world. Schemas allow us to appraise a current social situation, or to predict future social behaviors; schemas are cognitive shortcuts that can lead to stereotyping and other forms of overgeneralizations about individuals or groups. For example, “real rape” schemas are informed by traditional gender roles, the traditional sex script, and rape myths. These schemas reflect the belief that “real rape” occurs between strangers in a sudden and violent assault, and as such, there is no doubt the alleged victim was raped. This is problematic, because most rapes do not adhere to this schema. Moreover, researchers have consistently shown that jurors are reluctant to convict in rape cases, leading to rape having the lowest rates of proven guilt than any other crime. This study examined how mock jurors’ legal judgments differ in hearing a rape case that is schema-congruent, compared to schema-incongruent. Legal judgments included a dichotomous verdict, as well as continuous ratings of perpetrator guilt, and victim blame and credibility. A significantly larger proportion of mock jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the schema-congruent condition. Further, mock jurors’ ratings of victim credibility partially mediated the relationship between case type and verdict. Results replicate prior findings that jurors access stereotypes to render more punitive judgments in a stereotype-congruent case, and further suggest that the driving mechanism in the relationship between schema congruency and punitiveness is perceptions of victim credibility.

Additional Information

Ferrone, C. (2018). "The Role Of Schema Congruence In Mock Jurors’ Judgments Of Sexual Assault Cases." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Sexual assault, schemas, juror-level decision making

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