Excusing Murder? Conservative Jurors' Acceptance of the Gay Panic Defense

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 21(1), 24-34, 2015

Posted: 8 Jul 2018

See all articles by Jessica M. Salerno

Jessica M. Salerno

Arizona State University

Cynthia Najdowski

University at Albany, State University of New York

Bette Bottoms

University of Illinois at Chicago

Evan Harrington

University of Chicago

Gretchen Kemner

University of Illinois at Chicago

Reetu Dave

University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

We conducted a simulated trial study to investigate the effectiveness of a “gay panic” provocation defense as a function of jurors’ political orientation. Mock jurors read about a murder case in which a male defendant claimed a victim provoked the killing by starting a fight, which either included or did not include the male victim making an unwanted sexual advance that triggered a state of panic in the defendant. Conservative jurors were significantly less punitive when the defendant claimed to have acted out of gay panic as compared to when this element was not part of the defense. In contrast, liberal jurors were unaffected by the gay panic manipulation. The effect of the gay-panic defense on punitiveness was mediated by conservatives’ decreased moral outrage toward the defendant. Implications for psychological theory and the legal system are discussed.

Keywords: juror decision making, prejudice and stereotyping, political orientation, sexual prejudice, moral outrage

Suggested Citation

Salerno, Jessica M. and Najdowski, Cynthia and Bottoms, Bette and Harrington, Evan and Kemner, Gretchen and Dave, Reetu, Excusing Murder? Conservative Jurors' Acceptance of the Gay Panic Defense (2015). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 21(1), 24-34, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3198822

Jessica M. Salerno

Arizona State University ( email )

4701 W Thunderbird Rd (MC 3051)
Glendale, AZ 85034
United States

Cynthia Najdowski (Contact Author)

University at Albany, State University of New York ( email )

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
United States
518-591-8786 (Phone)

Bette Bottoms

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Evan Harrington

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Gretchen Kemner

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Reetu Dave

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

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