Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Often

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Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Often

#1  Postby DoctorE » May 03, 2010 3:09 pm

... I must be so pretty :dance:


In the one place in society where brute facts and figures are supposed to trump all else, appearance may matter more than we think.

According to a recent study by Justin J. Gunnell ’05 law ’08 and Prof. Stephen J. Ceci, human ecology and the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, more attractive defendants in court are less likely to be found guilty than less attractive ones. If there are damages, then more attractive people tend to receive higher rewards and in criminal cases, better-looking defendants receive lower sentences.

This phenomenon has been proven by more than 30 studies conducted over the past 60 to 70 years, according to Gunnell.

“We [already] knew about this phenomenon, so our question was: is there a specific type of person who’s more likely to do this?” Gunnell said.

In their report –– which will be published in the academic journal Behavioral Sciences & the Law and is titled “When Emotionality Trumps Reason” –– Gunnell and Ceci studied how individual information processing styles affect juror decisions.

Continues: http://www.cornellsun.com/section/news/ ... less-often
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#2  Postby I'm With Stupid » May 03, 2010 3:18 pm

Yeah I've heard this before. They also earn more, amongst other things. And heightism creates comparible disadvantages to racism or sexism. But obviously it's extremely worrying that not only the untrained jury are more likely to convict them, but it even effects an experienced judge's sentencing decisions.
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#3  Postby HughMcB » May 03, 2010 3:18 pm

If this is true then it's fucking ridiculous... but also slightly advantageous. :plot:
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#4  Postby I'm With Stupid » May 03, 2010 3:22 pm

Well obviously we'll have to have computers doing it in future.

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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#5  Postby DoctorE » May 03, 2010 3:23 pm

Jeebu$ must have been really ugly... all the people calling for his suicide; eh ;)
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#6  Postby Delvo » May 04, 2010 12:16 pm

In evolutionary conversations, preference based on appearance is usually said to be a result of the fact that appearance is correlated with genetic superiority. If that's the case, then why couldn't appearance also be related to one's likelihood of behaving criminally? (...even more so than it is with genetics as asserted in the evolutionary argument, because appearance is caused partially by genetics but also partially by behavior, and legal trials are about behavior, not genetics.)

* * *

The article says they divided jurors into two groups, then reports the results for one group. Why not mention the results for the other group?
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#7  Postby locutus7 » May 04, 2010 1:00 pm

I agree with Delvo that there is an evolutionary advantage - symmetrical face = good breeding prospect - to looks. It creates a bias, like other cognitive and perceptual biases, that can be overcome by critical thinking.

On arelated note, for the same reason, news networks chose attractive anchors because better looking people = reliable news (in the minds of non-critical thinkers). This explains why Fox news and the republican party employs so many pretty young blond newscasters and pundits. To the low-information individual (usual religious and conservative), the pretty young blond female is the societal ideal, and the repubs exploit this emotional force.

Studies (sorry, don't have any at hand) have shown that the public reacts far more strongly to kidnapping and other crimes against pretty young blonde girls than to any other category. It is deeply imbedded in the american consciousness.
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#8  Postby Delvo » May 04, 2010 2:15 pm

locutus7 wrote:I agree with Delvo that there is an evolutionary advantage - symmetrical face = good breeding prospect - to looks.
Not to be argumentative, but I must point out here that I only said that's the usual claim I see from others. It's not one I buy myself, other than perhaps when it comes to symmetry. But people still call some people better-looking or worse-looking than others who are equally symmetrical, and I do not believe that the remaining differences that those comparisons are based on have any connection to health or other such survival advantages. I find it a wildly overstated premise. It probably gained popularity as a defense mechanism for people who realize how much they really do select mates based on looks, but find it shameful and seek a way out of that shame, and feel as if having it make some kind of logical sense and even be a practical benefit for the good of the next generation would provide that way out.

I brought it up not because I believe it in general, but because I see a connection between that subject and this one. If looks really do indicate something substantive enough for natural selection to be acting on, some way in which people are better or worse than each other that can (often enough) be determined by looking at them, then it makes just as much sense in this context as in the other one. Similarly, if it doesn't make sense here (appearance doesn't indicate that the person has better or worse non-visible traits), it doesn't make sense there (appearance doesn't indicate that the person has better or worse non-visible traits). But I expect that many people who decry this example go right along with the other example of the same basic principle.

locutus7 wrote:It creates a bias, like other cognitive and perceptual biases, that can be overcome by critical thinking.
...or is absent from critical thinkers. That possibility has never been studied that I know of, because this is the first study I've seen that made any attempt to separate the observers/judges into groups based on how they think... which is why I was annoyed not to see anything reported about the more interesting group in this case.
Last edited by Delvo on May 04, 2010 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#9  Postby Animavore » May 04, 2010 2:20 pm

I guess that leaflet I had from the Jehovahs Witness is correct. "Jesus was not a beautiful man" [paraphrasing]
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#10  Postby locutus7 » May 04, 2010 4:18 pm

Animavore wrote:I guess that leaflet I had from the Jehovahs Witness is correct. "Jesus was not a beautiful man" [paraphrasing]


Funny. Yes, they had to make Jesus Northern European and good-looking to maximize the attraction. Can you imagine if Jesus were real and was actually short, fat, and bald?
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#11  Postby james1v » May 04, 2010 4:28 pm

In films and on Tv, all the bad guys are ugly or disfigured... :think:
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#12  Postby GreyICE » May 04, 2010 4:41 pm

Have we considered that appearance is partially determined by money? Standards of beauty in this culture are often purchasable - good skin from acne medication and good diet, good teeth from orthodontia, full potential height reached due to adequate nutrition, good hair cuts, etc.

By linking the faces to the closing arguments (we can assume better paid lawyers make better closing arguments, on average) we are tying two things together that may be best kept separate.

Interesting would be if we randomized case profile and faces, so people were getting a case profile with a totally unrelated face, and see how people sentenced the same crime with different faces attached.
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#13  Postby Foxy » Jun 19, 2010 10:57 pm

This shows the basic weakness of the jury system. The average voter is much too irrational to make an intelligent, logic-based conclusion.
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Re: Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Oft

#14  Postby Bolero » Jun 30, 2010 2:39 am

Foxy wrote:This shows the basic weakness of the jury system. The average voter is much too irrational to make an intelligent, logic-based conclusion.



Incidentally the basic weakness of democracy.
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