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Mock-juror’s rape empathy associated with rape victim credibility judgements

By Hayley McCaskill


The full text of this dissertation is available only to University of Leicester members. Please log in with your CFS username and password when prompted.Research has shown that a rape victim’s emotional expression can affect how she is perceived by jurors, and rape myth acceptance is influential in juror’s decision making. This study sought to establish if victim’s emotional expression and participant rape victim empathy, affected mock juror’s assessments of a rape victim’s credibility. 80 participants watched one of four video set-ups where the victim’s emotional expression was varied across her initial police interview and her courtroom testimony in a factorial design. Her emotional expression was portrayed as either calm or upset. Participants also filled in the Rape Empathy Scale (RES) and were asked to pass a judgement of guilt on the perpetrator. Significant changes in mock juror belief of the victim’s story were found from the police video to the court video, showing that participants believed her story more after both videos regardless of the victim’s emotional expression. RES scores were significantly associated with story belief across both videos and higher rape victim empathy was correlated with higher victim story belief. The influence of rape empathy on mock juror belief that the allegation was false approached significance. Rape victim empathy also showed a significant gender difference with women scoring higher in empathy than men. These results are highly preliminary, however, because more women than men were sampled. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.University of Leiceste

Year: 2010
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