Dangerous, depraved, and death-worthy: A meta-analysis of the correlates of perceived psychopathy in jury simulation studies. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: Experimental research suggests that legal defendants described as psychopathic are generally, although not uniformly, judged more negatively and punitively. Understanding the correlates of perceived psychopathy, regardless of exposure to mental health evidence, is an important step towards clarifying divergent findings. METHOD: We conducted a quantitative synthesis of ten juror simulation studies (combined N=2,980) examining the meta-analytic association between perceived defendant psychopathy and various psychologically important and legally relevant outcomes. RESULTS: Perceiving someone as being more psychopathic was associated with viewing that defendant as more dangerous (r W =0.31) and evil ( r W =0.44). Moreover, perceptions of defendant psychopathy predicted greater support for more adverse consequences in terms of capital sentencing ( r W =0.22) and sentence length ( r W =0.27), although not perceived treatment amenability ( r W =0.09). CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of including ratings of perceived psychopathy in experimental designs to identify the circumstances under which psychopathy evidence might prejudicially impact case outcomes.

published proceedings

  • J Clin Psychol

altmetric score

  • 16.98

author list (cited authors)

  • Kelley, S. E., Edens, J. F., Mowle, E. N., Penson, B. N., & Rulseh, A.

citation count

  • 17

publication date

  • January 2019