Date Approved

10-28-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Applied Psychology and Professional Mental Health Counseling

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Gaer, Eleanor

Subject(s)

Evidence, Expert;Verdicts

Disciplines

Psychiatric and Mental Health

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of expert witness testimony on juror verdicts. We, further, assessed whether there would be a difference in the relative influence of MDs and PhD expert witnesses. Undergraduate and graduate students served as mock jurors and were presented with an insanity case which either (a) a PhD testified for the defense and a MD testified for the prosecution or (b) an MD testified for the defense and a PhD testified for the prosecution. After analysis of verdicts, an Insanity Defense Attitudes Survey, and specific witness credibility evaluations indicated no bias toward MD's, except for the PhD-defense/MD-prosecution condition. Implications for other case factors that combine to affect jurors' verdicts are discussed.

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