Term of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jonathan E Friedel

Committee Member 1

Amy Hackney

Committee Member 2

Jacob Erickson


Decision-making is studied in various aspects of life and can be especially vital in the context of the criminal justice system, such as plea bargains. Previous research in this area used a less commonly used task (fill-in-the-blank) in addition to a student sample (Falligant & Pence, 2019). The current study uses probability discounting to study the choice between accepting a plea bargain for a shorter incarceration sentence or risking a trial with a longer sentence on a sample of adults with experience in the criminal justice system. Three sentence durations, or magnitudes, were used (1 year, 5 years, and 25 years) across five likelihoods of conviction at trial (99%, 90%, 50%, 10%, and 1%) using an adjusting amount task. Results of the study found that maximum potential sentence length did not impact plea bargain acceptance, but likelihood of being convicted did. These results have the potential to increase empirical validity of the study of discounting in plea bargain related decisions within the criminal justice population and provide defendant perspective.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material