Honors Projects


Despite the United States’ punitive reputation, many perpetrators of sexual assault are often left unprosecuted. A reason for this, among many, may be the jury’s propensity for bias due to several extralegal factors. The current study examines the ways the extralegal factors of defendant attractiveness and gender affect juror decision-making in an acquaintance sexual assault case. Mock jurors read a short summary of a sexual assault case accompanied by a randomized photograph of a defendant manipulated by attractiveness and gender. Mock jurors were then asked to give determinations of guilt and sentencing length, their perceptions of the defendant, and responsibility determinations. This research suggests that defendant gender and attractiveness may have a role in affecting juror decision-making in acquaintance sexual assault cases. Findings from this research, although lacking in statistical power, can serve to allow a better understanding of the potential implications of juror bias on the provision of justice and on the overall legitimacy of the legal system.


Economics – BS

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Demuth

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Dr. Joshua Boston

Second Advisor Department

Political Science

Publication Date

Spring 4-21-2024