Implicit Bias and Capital Decision-Making: Using Narrative to Counter Prejudicial Psychiatric Labels

32 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021

See all articles by Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Kathleen Wayland

Habeas Corpus Resource Center

Date Written: July 8, 2015

Abstract

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

O'Brien, Sean and Wayland, Kathleen, Implicit Bias and Capital Decision-Making: Using Narrative to Counter Prejudicial Psychiatric Labels (July 8, 2015). Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 43, 751, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3882960

Sean O'Brien (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Kathleen Wayland

Habeas Corpus Resource Center ( email )

303 Second Street
Fourth Floor South
San Francisco, CA 94107
United States

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