The influence of accounts and remorse on mock jurors' judgments of offenders

Law Hum Behav. 2009 Oct;33(5):393-404. doi: 10.1007/s10979-008-9164-6. Epub 2008 Dec 11.


Defendants often provide accounts that minimize their responsibility for the accused offense. Jurors attribute responsibility to defendants and decide legal outcomes based on the given account. The current research examined the effects of accounts (i.e., excuse, justification, denial, and no explanation) and the defendant's remorse display (i.e., remorseful, remorseless) on mock jurors' judgments. Participants acquitted the defendant in the denial condition most often and recommended the most lenient punishment in the justification condition. The remorseful defendant was found guilty more frequently than the remorseless defendant in the no explanation and (marginally) excuse conditions. Limitations and future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Decision Making*
  • Denial, Psychological
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Homicide / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Law Enforcement / methods*
  • Lie Detection
  • Male
  • Prisoners / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Punishment
  • Social Responsibility
  • Young Adult