The Influence of Criminal Facial Stereotypes on Juridic Judgments

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In order to further research into the influence of facial stereotypes on juridic judgments, we investigated the influence of face/offence congruency on such judgments, taking into account the strength of the case against the defendant and the maturity and attractiveness attributes of the defendant's face. Each participant (N = 169) read a fictitious case file that: (1) established the defendant's guilt with either a high degree of ambiguity or with a low degree of ambiguity; (2) included a photo of the defendant that was congruent with the offence or not congruent with the offence. Participants were asked to evaluate the defendant's guilt (in a dichotomous manner and on a continuous scale), to state their degree of confidence in their decision, to recommend a sentence, and to rate the attractiveness and maturity of the defendant's face. The results show that participants' judgments were affected by face/offence congruency and that this influence was not dependent on the ambiguity of the case or on the maturity or attractiveness of the face.

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