Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Although sexual harassment has received a considerable amount of publicity since the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, current literature lacks an abundance of studies examining the outcome of sexual harassment cases. The researcher sought to examine the effect of an extralegal (legally irrelevant) factor and the amount of evidence on jury decision making. Specifically, the race of the defendant served as the extralegal factor, while the amount of evidence presented was determined in relation to how many variables (0, 2, or 4 sources of evidence) were included in a particular sexual harassment scenario. (The four variables used were: the presence of an eyewitness, the victim's reaction, the use of coercion, and the type/form of sexual harassment.) Accordingly, a 2 x 3 design was used: race of defendant (black or white) and number of variables (0 variables or 2 variables or 4 variables). The sample consisted of 475 college students, and results showed that the amount of evidence played a crucial role in jury decision-making. Specifically, as the amount of evidence increased, the tendency of the juror to find the defendant guilty increased as well. Contrary to what the author proposed, it was also found that the white defendant received significantly more guilty verdicts than the black defendant when less evidence was presented. Basis for the findings are discussed, and practical implications and future research directions are offered.


Psychology | Race and Ethnicity