Effects of perspective taking on courtroom decisions

Jeanine L. Skorinko, Sean Laurent, Kaitlin Bountress, Kyi Phyu Nyein, Daniel Kuckuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Four experiments examined the hypothesis that perspective taking with a defendant would lead to greater empathy, which would mediate lowered perceptions of culpability, with lowered culpability mediating a lower probability of guilt and recidivism. Experiments 1 and 2 established that perspective taking leads to a lower probability of guilty verdicts and recidivism, mediated by a decreased perception of the defendant's culpability. Experiment 2 showed that it does so by increasing empathy. Experiment 3 showed that perspective taking also heightens the perception of culpability through increased empathy for the victim. Experiment 4 showed that decreased culpability is in part driven by leniency, which is also a function of empathy. We tie our findings into other research investigating links between empathy and perspective taking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-318
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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