JURY DECISION MAKING: DECISION AND BIASES OF THE INSANITY DEFENSE PLEA AND DEFINING ‘INSANITY’

Open Access
Author:
Jensen, Rachel Honor
Area of Honors:
Applied Psychology (Berks/Lehigh)
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brenda L Russell, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sandy Feinstein, Honors Advisor
  • Nathan Michael Greenauer, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • jury decision making
  • perceptions
  • juror bias
  • insanity defense plea
Abstract:
In the last few decades there has been a surge of research concerning jury decision making and jury bias. While there has been some research into jurors' opinions of the insanity defense plea, there has been little to no research into how well jurors’ preconceived notions of the insanity defense plea overlap with the legal statutes and criteria of legal insanity. In order to assess how well mock jurors’, or laypeoples', perceptions of legal insanity align with existing legal statutes, 59 undergraduate students read a scenario and answered a survey measuring their perceptions of legal insanity. The results indicated that there was a strong overlap of participants’ unsolicited perceptions of legal insanity and the Irresistible Impulse Standard (IIS), the Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI) statute, the Durham Rule and a concept the author labels “the mental health professional” factor.