Are Criminal Convictions and Sentences Affected by the Defendant's Looks?

A study by Cornell University found that jurors are about 20 percent more likely to convict unattractive criminals than attractive ones. Jurors also are likely to recommend much longer sentences for unattractive defendants — on average, up to 22 months longer.

More about influences on jurors:

  • The same study found that jurors usually can be divided into two groups, rational thinkers and experiential thinkers. Though both groups treated attractive defendants in about the same way, the experiential thinkers were much harsher on unattractive defendants.

  • Given the data in the study, researchers believe that the same biases apply to judges as well, because other studies show that there is about an 80 percent correlation between juries' verdicts and judges' rulings.

  • Other potential influences that the study tested for were church attendance, addiction to drugs, being on the dean's list at a university or collecting welfare. Although jurors were slightly more positive toward those defendants who attended church or were on the dean's list, they were much more negative toward those who collected welfare or had a drug addiction.
More Info: Cornell Online

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