The Effects of Different Forms of Risk Communication on Judicial Decision Making

International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, Vol. 8, pp. 1-5, 2009

Chapman University Law Research Paper No. 09-40

6 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009 Last revised: 30 May 2014

John Dolores

Drexel University

Richard E. Redding

Chapman University, Office of the Provost

Date Written: September 2, 2009

Abstract

When mental health experts provide information to courts on the results of a risk assessment conducted on a defendant or patient, they engage in “risk communication.” We examined the effects of four different forms of risk communication (prediction, categorical, risk factors/risk management, or hybrid) on judges’ (n = 253) perceptions of risk assessment evidence introduced in a case where they must decide whether to release from the hospital an individual found not guilty by reason of insanity. Judges who received information in the risk factors/risk management form were more likely to release the patient than were those who received prediction - based or categorical risk information. Judges with greater experience hearing cases involving risk assessment evidence were also more likely to release. Moreover, judges who had positive attitudes towards risk assessment and social science evidence in general, were more likely to find the risk assessment evidence introduced in the particular case to be understandable, relevant, and dispositive. Implications of the results for how mental health experts communicate risk information to the courts are discussed.

Keywords: Risk communication, risk assessment, risk management, judicial decision making, violence, civil commitment, scientific evidence

JEL Classification: K14, K32

Suggested Citation

Dolores, John and Redding, Richard E., The Effects of Different Forms of Risk Communication on Judicial Decision Making (September 2, 2009). International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, Vol. 8, pp. 1-5, 2009 ; Chapman University Law Research Paper No. 09-40. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1467028

John Dolores

Drexel University

3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Richard E. Redding (Contact Author)

Chapman University, Office of the Provost ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714-628-2688 (Phone)
714-628-2564 (Fax)

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