Effects of terrorist charges and threatening conduct on Mock Jurors' decisions

Jane Delahunty, Natalie Martschuk, Elizabeth Ockenden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Terror management theory posits that fear of death influences judgments in criminal cases. A between-subjects study examined the influence of mortality and terrorism salience in the context of life-threatening versus non-threatening criminal conduct on mock jurors’ emotions and judgments of convictions by 485 jury-eligible Australian citizens. Mortality salience did not impact upon mock jurors’ judgments, indicating that exposure to a criminal trial mitigated the effect. The participants reported more negative emotions with a suspect charged with a terrorism than non-terrorism crime, independently of criminal conduct. Mock jurors were more likely to convict a suspected terrorist (66.4%) than a defendant charged with murder when the criminal conduct entailed throwing a paint bomb (54.0%). When the actus reus was life-threatening, they were more likely to convict a defendant charged with intent to murder (81.5%) than with a terrorist crime (69.7%). The findings indicated that jurors can be influenced by numerous factors at court, including fear of death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-708
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number5
Early online date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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