Implicit Bias and Capital Decision-Making: Using Narrative to Counter Prejudicial Psychiatric Labels
32 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 8, 2015
Overreliance on psychiatric diagnostic labels in the defense of death penalty cases risks triggering prejudicial associations in the minds of decision-makers. This article emphasizes the importance of developing a mitigating counter-narrative of the defendant’s life story, based on an extensive longitudinal and developmental investigation of the defendant and his family’s life trajectory. It is the client’s life story, not diagnostic labels, that reveals his humanity. Cognitive psychology provides a useful framework for explaining human perceptions, and how implicit or explicit biases can interfere with the objective interpretation of data in ways that affect judgment and behavior.
Keywords: narrative, psychiatric labels, implicit bias, death penalty, standards of performance
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation