Graduation Date

Summer 2020

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Gregg J. Gold PhD

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Amanda Hahn

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Lori Cortez-Regan M.A.

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Issues of race, law, and mental health meet at a cross-section when it comes to cases involving the not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) plea in which the defendant is a member of a marginalized group. Although the duty of a juror is to reach a fair and unbiased verdict, the reality is that there are many ways that a person’s thoughts can be biased without them being aware of this (Bargh, 2001). This mock juror experiment (the first of its kind), investigated the role that Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and attributional responsibility has in the success of NGRI pleas among African American and white defendants diagnosed with schizophrenia. Participants read a police report, a trial summary, and saw a photo where only skin color varied between conditions, with either a white or African American defendant. Measures of SDO, attitudes about NGRI, attitudes about mental illness, and perceptions of attributional responsibility were taken. Results from (N = 320) participants suggest negative attitudes about the insanity plea reduces the likelihood of a juror assigning NGRI, R2 = .09, F(1,318) = 31.75, b* = -.30, p < .001. Also, higher SDO-D may be related to greater assignment of attributional responsibility to the defendant. Results revealed that as SDO-D rose, attributional responsibility rose R2 = .10, F(1,318) = 38.86, b* = .33, p < .001. Although race did not moderate guilt, other factors such as a holding negative attitudes toward the insanity plea itself, and toward mentally ill individuals did make a difference.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location