Juror perceptions of the interpersonal-affective traits of psychopathy predict sentence severity in a white-collar criminal case
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2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Recent research has demonstrated jurors perceptions of a defendants psychopathic traits may impact their sentencing recommendations in death penalty and sexually violent predator civil commitment trials. Given the increasing media attention on white-collar crimes, the huge economic impact of such crimes on society, and the theoretical relationship between psychopathy and this type of crime, this research sought to investigate how juror perceptions of a white-collar defendants psychopathic traits may influence sentencing recommendations. Jury-eligible community members were given a brief description of a white-collar crime and asked to provide the judge with sentencing recommendations. Results largely supported previous findings in that perceiving a defendant to be highly psychopathic, particularly in terms of affective traits, predicted more punitive sentencing recommendations. Specifically, perceptions of the defendants remorselessness, lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility incrementally predicted harsher sentencing recommendations. These data lend support to the hypothesis that lay perceptions of psychopathic traits influence sentencing recommendations in white-collar criminal cases.