Date of Award

Summer 10-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Cynthia Calkins

Second Reader

Diana Falkenbach

Third Advisor

Sean Murphy


Imprisonment is the harshest punishment the law can give a defendant; it has considerable consequences on the incarcerated, during and after. Therefore, the sentencing phase of the criminal proceedings should be fair and balanced. However, the literature and researches that have explored the biases in sentencing found that there is a disparity in sentencing due to the characteristics of both the victim and the defendant. The current study used a sample of 209 online survey participants to explore the effect of the socioeconomic status of the victim and defendant on sentencing length. Participants reviewed a vignette of a criminal offense and were asked to complete a survey based on the vignette. Analyses revealed there was no effect between socioeconomic status and sentencing. However, the procedure had many faults which could have confounded the results. Although, interestingly, when looking at gender influence there was a trend of female participants giving higher sentencing.


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