Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Study: Ugly defendants more likely convicted, get more prison time

Reports CBS News: "According to a Cornell University study, unattractive defendants are 22 percent more likely to be convicted than good-looking ones. And the unattractive also get slapped with harsher sentences - an average of 22 months longer in prison."

Rather than surveying undergraduates, which was this study's methodology, one imagines it might be possible to devise a study that tested this finding empirically. Take a subset of cases that went all the way to a jury. Rank defendant mug shots by attractiveness (perhaps using focus groups). Then chart the outcomes, grouping similar types of cases, for the homely and handsome alike, following up with juror interviews to round out the dataset with oral accounts. It would be a lot of legwork (that's why God created grad students and interns), but there's enough data available to do such a study.

If true, then it turns out justice isn't blind at all. In fact, she may think some of those defendants are kinda cute. :)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's why I don't leave the house.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:12 has it right! I stay home or wear distracting clothes! Those of us who weren't blessed with being "easy on the eye" have long known about the absolute paramount importance of good looks in ALL facets of human interaction. We live it (and lose) every day. This is no surprise. The procedures of justice are designed to conceal this and other vulgarities which usually actually drive jury decisions (and all other social decisions). It's not that they intentionally do it. It is unconscious. Research has shown that people "just feel better" about more attractive people, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they also have other positive characteristics (intelligence, wealth, personality, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Not sure I've ever seen a good looking mug shot.

Anonymous said...

It also matters how the defendants are dressed and groomed for court, when my cousin went to court in Colorado county (drug possession case, no jury) he was the only one in a suit with a fresh haircut. He was told he would get jail time for sure but ended up with probation. Granted, he is a pretty good looking guy as well. The hypothetical study should perhaps measure both "base attractiveness" (mug shot?) and "court attractiveness" (photos from the actual court appearance?) to measure the relative impact of each.

Anonymous said...

Aileen Wuornos.

Nuff' said.

Anonymous said...

Good looking attorneys tend to win their cases while the not so good looking or ugly attorneys, tend to lose.

By the same token, not so good looking jurors tend to find the good looking defendants guilty. Itis revenge.

Anonymous said...

They'd probably let me go, scott free.

Plato

Anonymous said...

Not sure I've ever seen a good looking mug shot

Check the Friday night round ups on thesmokinggun.com. There are some dogs for sure, but generally some smoking hot ones too.

Shake-Weight said...

James Carville and Lyle Lovett better hope they never get arrested.

Shake-Weight said...

James Carville and Lyle Lovett better hope they never get arrested.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:31 said that, "Good looking attorneys tend to win their cases while the not so good looking or ugly attorneys, tend to lose."

Once knew some folks who worked for a bankruptcy court and they could tell who was going to win a decision based on the good looks of the attorny...just as Anon 3:31 stated. :~)

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh!

As I think about it, I think that may be true about the attractive attorneys, for sure, all else about them, including competence, being equal, and probably the defendants, too.

Looks like the expense of hiring a fashion consultant, the services of the beautician, barber, trainer, and plastic surgeon might be deductible business expenses for lawyering.

Anonymous said...

This is one of many studies. See this excerpt from Influence by Robert Cialdini http://imgur.com/ZkI5b.jpg

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