Jurors' locus of control and defendants' attractiveness in death penalty sentencing

J Soc Psychol. 2007 Jun;147(3):285-98. doi: 10.3200/SOCP.147.3.285-298.


The authors examined the relationship between jurors' locus of control and defendants' attractiveness in death penalty sentencing. Ninety-eight participants voluntarily served as mock jurors. The authors administered J. B. Rotter's (1966) Internal-External Locus of Control Scale to participants and then randomly assigned them to a group with either an attractive or an unattractive defendant (represented by photographs). Participants read a murder vignette and selected a punishment--either a lifetime jail sentence or the death penalty-for the defendant. Results indicated that neither jurors' locus of control nor defendants' attractiveness influenced sentencing. However, jurors' age and gender significantly influenced sentencing. Men, with the exception of the youngest men, were more likely than women to choose the death penalty. Additionally, young women were more likely than older women to select the death penalty. The authors discuss the implications of these results for the study of jury behavior and bias.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Capital Punishment / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Judicial Role*
  • Jurisprudence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Desirability*