Term of Award

Spring 2024

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

Amy Hackney

Committee Member 1

Michael Nielsen

Committee Member 2

Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 3

Brenda Sims Blackwell

Committee Member 3 Email



It is commonly recognized that sentencing disparities exist between men and women who are accused of the same crime—with men often receiving harsher judgements than women. However, research explaining why this disparity exists is incomplete. Research suggests that higher levels of facial masculinity in men is tied to higher levels of criminality (Estrada-Reynolds et al., 2017); however, little research looks at this pattern amongst female defendants. The current study investigated whether the gendered appearance (masculine vs. feminine) of female defendants in different types of cases (child negligence vs. medical malpractice) affects mock jurors’ judgments about verdict, punishment, and internal blame attribution. Mock jurors were presented with photographs of the defendant, which were either manipulated to be high in physical characteristics of warmth (feminine) or high in physical characteristics of competence (masculine). Participants then read a trial summary and answered questions about their judgments. The results from Study 1 suggested that with the proper manipulation of gendered appearance, how masculine or feminine the defendant appears could influence mock jurors’ trial judgments. However, Study 2 found no effect of the defendant’s gendered appearance on participants’ trial judgments. The type of case, however, did influence how much the defendant was assigned to pay in damages. The lack of significant findings regarding gendered appearance could be due to inadequate power or because the gendered appearance manipulations were not salient enough. These findings suggest that masculinity may not be tied to guilt and harsher judgments amongst female defendants in the same way that it is with male defendants.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material