Attitudes toward sentencing decisions were examined in 135 University students. Subjects were administered the Leadership Ability Evaluation (LAE) and the California Psychological Inventory (CPI). They were asked to make sentencing decisions regarding two mock criminal matters. Data were evaluated using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). In comparison to other leadership styles, individuals who had a democratic-cooperative leadership style scored significantly higher on personality variables of good-impression, self-control, tolerance, and achievement via independence than other leadership styles. In the autocratic-aggressive group, males scored much lower on communality than females. The females in the study scored significantly lower than males on social presence, socialization, and good impression. A two way interaction was noted for leadership style and gender for sentencing. Females with a democratic-cooperative leadership style were significantly harsher in sentencing than males from the same group.
In North America, anyone charged with an indictable offense has the right to a trial by jury, as guaranteed by the American Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. The dynamics of the jury have been of keen interest to many in the social sciences and the legal profession. Perusal of the literature shows that research in this area has mainly examined political views, gender and racial differences toward decision making by jury members (Levine, 1992). There is an endless discourse amongst lawyers about the best types of jurors for certain cases (Hans & Vidmar, 1986). For this reason, the legal system has turned to the social sciences for insight into individual differences in jury opinion. Within the legal profession, it is assumed that differences in background, personality and attitudes will influence a juror's decision-making (Hastie, Penrod, & Pennington, 1983). Studies conducted on the dynamics of group interaction have led to the conclusion that status, power and privilege have an impact on decisions (Hans & Vidmar, 1986). Jurors' decisions and the verdicts that emerge can be improved by allowing the jurors to ask questions and make notes of the proceedings (Heuer & Penrod, 1996).
The present study sought to investigate differences in personality and leadership style and the effects these would have on mock sentencing decisions in university students. It was hypothesized that students who upheld a democratic leadership style would be more lenient in the sentences they gave whereas those with an authoritarian attitude would be more punitive. Also, it was hypothesized that students who were more elevated on dominance would provide severe sentences in comparison to students who were more tolerant.
A total of 135 students enrolled in first and third year psychology classes at Laurentian University volunteered as participants in this study. Of this population, 85 were female and 50 were male. Subjects were divided into Leadership Style as a result of their responses to the Leadership Ability Evaluation. The limited number of subjects in the autocratic submissive group led to the re-classifying into only one autocratic group: Laissez-Faire (n = 37), Democratic-Cooperative (n = 47) and Autocratic (n = 51). Subjects were awarded experimental bonus points for their participation and were assured that confidentiality would be maintained in accordance with the APA ethical standards.
The subjects were approached during classroom lectures and asked to volunteer for the study. Consent forms were completed and students were given a brief explanation of the study prior to their completion of the Leadership Ability Evaluation and the California Psychological Inventory. They were also asked to respond to two mock criminal cases with corresponding options for punishment.
The Leadership Ability Evaluation (LAE) assesses one's decision-making and leadership style (Cassel & Stancik, 1981). The LAE consists of fifty items with four multiple choice alternatives. Leadership style is determined by one's decision regarding different strategies in situations with the four leadership styles including Laissez-Faire (LF), Democratic-Cooperative (DC), Autocratic-Submissive (AS), and Autocratic-Aggressive (AA). Reliability for LAE ranges between .71 to .91.
The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) a 480-item personality assessment questionnaire was also administered (Gough, 1975). This test is designed for group administration but can also be taken individually. The inventory is intended primarily for subjects without psychiatric disturbance and includes 18 scales which address personality characteristics. Reliability has been shown to range up to .87.
A Sentencing Decision Scale was designed to evaluate an individual's attitude toward mock crimes and the sentencing regarding these crimes. The scale has seven possible options that could be chosen. The cases are as follows: CASE 1: The president of the Sudbury Tourism Association has been charged with fraud of over forty thousand dollars. This Association is funded by the federal government and was established to promote tourism in the Sudbury area. The president John Doe is 47 years of age and born and raised in Sudbury. CASE 2: John Doe of 43 Morris Street in Sudbury was charged with defrauding the Welfare and Family Benefits Department of over forty thousand dollars. He is 47 years of age and resides with his girlfriend. He was born and raised in the Sudbury Region.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Scores from psychometric tests were compared using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSSX) (Nie, 1983) on a VAX 400 computer. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to examine the differences in personality, gender, and leadership style. Since none of the students had endorsed the Autocratic-Submissive leadership style this grouping was eliminated from statistical analysis. Statistical analyses also showed leadership main effects on four of the California Psychological Inventory scales including good-impression [F^sub 2,103^ = 447, p = .01, eta = .29], self-control [F^sub 2,103^ = 3.78, p = .03, eta = .26], tolerance [F^sub 2,103^ = 5.38, p = .006, eta = .30], and achievement via independence. The democratic-cooperative group scored significantly higher on these four scales than the other groups. This result partially supported one of the hypotheses specifically that individuals in the laissez-faire and democratic-cooperative styles would score higher on the tolerance scale, than those individuals with aggressive leadership style. This is consistent with the findings of White and Lippit (1960) who found democratic leaders are tolerant and open-minded in group decisions. However, this had no effect on sentencing since there was no significant differences in leadership styles on this variable. Results showed main gender effects for social presence [F^sub 1,103^ = 5.34, p = .02, eta = .22], socialization [F^sub 1,103^ = 5.00, p = .03, eta = .22], and good-impression [F^sub 1,103^ = 6.96, p = .01, eta = .26]. Females were found to score lower than males on all three of the scales mentioned.
Further analyses showed a significant two-way interaction [F^sub 2,103^ = 7.07, p = .001, eta = .39] for gender and leadership style for communality. Post-hoc analysis revealed that males in the autocratic group scored lower than both males and females in the democratic-cooperative and laissez-faire groups for this variable. A two-way variance was also performed with each of the criminal cases. A significant [F^sub 2,102 = 394, p = .OS, eta = .28] gender by leadership interaction emerged for the criminal case involving the lower socioeconomic status individual. Post hoc analyses showed that Democratic-Cooperative and Laissez Faire females were harsher than males in their sentencing. Specifically, individuals who scored higher on responsibility, self-control, tolerance, good-impression, and psychological mindedness were harsher in their sentencing of the lower socioeconomic perpetrator.
Results of this study did not support the hypothesis that the autocratic group would be harsher in the sentences administered in comparison to the laissez-faire and democratic-cooperative groups. The findings in this study also did not support earlier research that males would be harsher in sentencing than females (Valliant & Oliver, 1997).
In conclusion, the results of this study did not lend full support to the hypotheses that gender, leadership style, and personality would influence mock sentencing decisions. The results that emerged indicated that males did not have an autocratic leadership style. Those individuals obtaining a higher score on responsibility, self-control, tolerance, good-impression, and psychologicalmindedness were found to be harsher in the sentences they gave specifically to the lower socioeconomic status individual. In the criminal justice system, jury selection is becoming a science and the ability to select prospective jurors based on a number of pertinent criteria should offset the probability of bias which could influence decision making. Further research is necessary to provide an understanding of the interaction of the many variables in jury selection and the effect of personality and leadership style on this process.
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PAUL M. VALLIANT AND JENNIFER E. LORING
Laurentian University, Canada
Paul M. Valliant, Ph.D. and Jennifer E. Loring, Department of Psychology, Laurentian University, Canada. Please address correspondence and reprint requests to: Paul M. Valliant, Ph.D., Full Professor, Department of Psychology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario P3E2C6, Canada (Phone (705)-675-1151, Fax (705)-6754889)…