Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jason Dickinson

Committee Member

John Adams

Committee Member

Jennifer Bragger


Reported frequently in the popular press is a public perception that juries hold celebrities to a different legal standard. This study tested this hypothesis by presenting paiticipants with a trial transcript of a personal injury lawsuit in which the defendant was either a famous male actor or a comparable non-celebrity. Also tested was the hypothesis that the presence of a celebrity would render “jurors” more susceptible to heuristic- processing of trial information. Some participants were informed that the location of the accident was the estate of a famous male actor while for others the estate had non- celebrity ownership. It was predicated that the decision-making of participants in the celebrity-estate condition would be more influenced by the physical attractiveness of the defendant. Physical attractiveness has been documented to affect juror decision-making and increases in influence when jurors process information heuristically. The results of this study did not support these predictions. Possible reasons for findings inconsistent with prior research and limitations of the current study are discussed.

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Psychology Commons