Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Mark Fondacaro

Second Reader

Charlie Stone

Third Advisor

Steven Penrod


Despite the low rate of discretionary parole release in New York, much is still unknown about the processes underpinning parole decisions. The present paper delves into how aggravating and mitigating parole case characteristics (e.g. institutional behavior) relate to parole decisions and the perceived humanness of parole applicants. The paper also examines how construal level can moderate the above relationships. Finally, a moderated mediation model outlining the pattern of these relationships is posited and tested. 122 New York residents were recruited online and randomly assigned to read either an abstractly or concretely construed transcript for an interview with a parole applicant. Participants then completed a questionnaire asking how they perceived the case’s characteristics, whether they would grant or deny parole, their decision certainty, their preferred specific parole disposition and the perceived humanness of the applicant. Results showed that cases perceived to have more mitigating characteristics were associated with greater certainty in granting parole, more lenient specific dispositions, and more perceived humanness. Additionally, for cases perceived to have more aggravating characteristics, abstract (versus concrete) construals led to greater certainty in granting parole. However, construal level did not moderate the relationships involving specific disposition or perceived humanness. Lastly, the posited model was partially supported, such that the direct effect of case characteristics on decision certainty was moderated by construal level; however, construal level did not moderate the indirect effect through perceived humanness. These findings lay the groundwork for more extensive parole research and have implications for parole applicants preparing for parole reviews.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.