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Volume 7 Issue 2

Predicting feelings of school saftey for lower, middle and upper school students: A gender specific analysis

Bachman, R., Gunter, W.D., & Bakken, N.W.

Though the literature is making advances in the study of fear for the general population, we still know very little about adolescent's perceptions of fear in the school setting. Moreover, the existing literature has primarily examined fear among older adolescents, and has not provided gender-sensitive analyses when exploring the factors related to fear. In this paper, we examine both the individual and contextual factors that predict male and female students' feelings of safety for 5th, 8th, and 11th graders who attend public schools in the state of Delaware. Previous victimization experiences were the most consistent predictor of fear for all grades regardless of gender. At the school level, students attending schools with higher rates of expulsion and suspension were also more fearful than students attending schools with lower rates of these sanctions. Importantly, all students who attended schools where rules were communicated and enforced fairly were less likely to perceive fear, net of the other individual and contextual level factors. Other variables including alcohol/drug availability had relationships with fear that varied across age and gender groups. These findings and their implications for policy are discussed.

Influence of a perpetrator's distinctive facial feature on eyewitness identification from simultaneous versus sequential lineups

Carlson, C.A.

This study featured a multiple-block face recognition paradigm. For each of several blocks, participants studied a sequential presentation of briefly-presented faces that included a target, and then later in the same block they made an identification decision from either a simultaneous or sequential lineup. Targets had been rated for distinctiveness and then a distinctive feature (scar, mole, or black eye) had been added (or not) to assess a potential interaction between holistic and feature-driven distinctiveness in terms of correct identification rate (target choices) and false identification rate (non-target "innocent suspect" choices). Distinctive faces yielded higher accuracy overall, replicating prior research. Adding a feature to a nondistinctive target did not change correct identification rate; interestingly, adding a feature to a distinctive target decreased correct identification rate, but only for simultaneous lineups. Out of four simultaneous-sequential comparisons, there was one sequential lineup advantage (lower false identification rate): after encoding a nondistinctive target with an added feature. Overall, results from this single experiment suggest that if an eyewitness's description of a perpetrator includes a distinctive feature, a sequential lineup should be used to protect the innocent. However, if no distinctive feature is mentioned, there is no preference for simultaneous or sequential lineup.

Examining capital jurors' impressions of attorneys' personal characteristics and their impact on sentencing outcomes

Trahan, A., & Stewart, D.M.

Using a mixed-methods model, we analyze former capital jurors' impressions of defense and prosecuting attorneys' personal characteristics and the impact these perceptions have on sentencing outcomes. Data derived from the Capital Jury Project. We used thematic content analysis to describe the jurors' impressions of the attorneys and identify differences in their impressions of the prosecuting and defense attorneys. We used chi-square tests to determine whether jurors' impressions were related to sentencing outcomes. Findings show that the jurors' impressions focused on the attorneys' physical appearance and personalities. Impressions of the defense attorneys were markedly more negative than their impressions of the prosecutors. Impressions of the defense attorneys, but not the prosecutors, were significantly related to sentencing outcomes such that negative impressions of the defense attorneys were associated with death sentences. The results of the thematic content analysis suggest that jurors' impressions of the attorneys' personal characteristics were a function of bias. The chi-square tests further suggest that these biased impressions influence sentencing verdicts. As such, the defendants tried by the jurors in this sample failed to realize their Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. Implications for how to reaffirm capital defendants' due process rights are discussed.

Police officers' cognitive appraisals for traumatic events: Implications for treatment and training

Colwell, L.H., Lyons, P.M., Bruce, A.J., Garner, R.L., & Miller, R.S.

Police officers often experience traumatic events with far greater frequency than the average citizen yet little is known about how they process these events or how this relates to recovery. This study presents the development and initial validation of a cognitive appraisal instrument designed to capture to police officers' experiences of trauma. Results indicated that officers' cognitive appraisals (particularly their perceptions of how the event overlapped with or impacted their personal lives) were more predictive of their response to trauma than years of experience or the severity of the event. The implications of these results for the treatment and training of officers are discussed.