'He Said, She Said,' With A Twist
29 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2012 Last revised: 18 Sep 2015
Many studies have explored the effect of judges’ characteristics, such as gender or ethnicity, on their own decisions and perceptions. For example, some studies focused on the relationship between judges’ gender and their judgments on sexually based offenses. None has studied whether such characteristics affect people’s perceptions of the judgments. This question is important, inter alia, because the frequently heard argument that the judiciary must be ‘representative’ or ‘reflective of society’ is often linked to the assumption that representation increases public trust in the judiciary. Representation leads to trust only if members of a specific group have a greater trust in other members of the same group. Alas, empirical studies have not yet examined whether trust is actually dependent on judges’ identities.
It this article, we wish to study whether men and women perceive judgments concerning gender-charged events differently, especially in view of the judge’s gender. More accurately, we wish to examine whether men and women’s identical judgments are perceived differently, indicating the existence of a possible bias. To do so, we employ an experimental research design. Our two independent variables are judges’ gender (which is an active variable) and evaluators’ gender (which is an assigned variable). The dependent variables are evaluators’ perceptions with respect to different components of the judgments. Thus, this study examines whether people deem sentences imposed by female judges on sex offenders as more severe than identical sentences imposed by male judges. More importantly, this study examines whether men and women perceive identical sentences imposed on sex offenders as fairer when imposed by judges of their own gender.
Keywords: criminal procedure, judges, perception of judgments, rape, sex offense, intergroup bias, in-group bias, law and psychology, gender, judiciary
JEL Classification: K00, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation