Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Preferred Name - First Author

Megan Parker

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department

Department of Psychology

Advisor(s)

Kethera Fogler

Abstract

Moral disengagement refers to how individuals rationalize the decisions they make, especially if they may be immoral or difficult. Individuals can be primed to engage in moral disengagement through the use of specific language. The current study analyzed language strategies used in closing statements of real capital murder cases to investigate which are correlated with a death penalty sentence. Because jurors are responsible for sentencing another individual to death, they may have some difficulty making such a decision. The current study found that future dangerousness and empathetic language were significantly correlated to jurors sentencing the death to the death penalty. This finding suggests that there are types of language strategies that may reduce the guilt associated with jurors’ death penalty decisions.

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