Emotions and Morality:

  • Moral Outrage, Anger, and Disgust: We test the effects of anger and disgust elicited by vivid crime-scene photographs. We also test the effects of emotional testimony meant to elicit empathy for the defendant. We have found that a combination of anger and disgust predict moral outrage.
  • Emotion Regulation: We investigate several types of jury instructions about emotion. For example, our preliminary research confirms that instructing jurors to suppress emotions, or simply telling them emotions should be avoided, are ineffective strategies that do not reduce jurors' experienced emotion.
  • Gruesome Evidence: We test whether seeing gruesome post-mortem photographs (versus reading descriptions of the injuries) increases jurors' negative emotional reactions to the evidence, and make them more likely to convict.

Race and Gender:

  • Jury Composition and Defendant Race: We have found that jurors in diverse versus all-White juries seem to be more cognitively depleted after deliberation, yet their performance does not suffer. Further justifying the importance of racially diverse juries, jurors on all-White juries perform better when they judge a White (versus Black) defendant, yet racially diverse juries perform just as well when the defendant was Black.
  • Police Officer Shootings: We investigate the effects of victim race, victim appearance, and police officer gender on attributions of blame, perceptions of the shooting as justified, and verdict decisions similar to those made by grand jury members and trial juries. 
  • Victim Depression: We examine how jurors discuss evidence of a victim’s depression as evidence in a murder case. We directly test how manipulations of evidence strength about a victim’s depression influence verdicts, and further investigate the moderating effects of juror gender and victim race.

Vulnerable Populations in Legal Contexts:

  • Juveniles: We investigate whether endorsement of a policies for violent juvenile offenders depends on information about policy effectiveness and if people come to their decision via utilitarian (i.e., fear reactions to juvenile offenders) or retributive path (i.e., moral outrage). We further examine the roles of threat (specific fear of crimes and juveniles; general societal threat) and trait aggression in specific emotional reactions (i.e., anger, fear) to violent crimes committed by juveniles. 
  • Animals: We test perceptions of animal abuse and explore the different mechanisms that explain moral outrage toward animal, versus human, abuse.