Victim impact statements and crime heinousness: a test of the saturation hypothesis
Abstract:In Payne v. Tennessee (1991), it was argued that the harmful effects of a victim impact statement (VIS) during sentencing are diminished as the heinousness of the crime increases. We tested this hypothesis by giving 180 mock jurors a summary of a murder trial that varied the presence/absence of VIS along with the crime heinousness (more/less). Participants gave significantly harsher sentencing ratings when VIS was present than when it was absent, and crime heinousness also significantly affected sentencing ratings. However, a significant heinousness by VIS interaction failed to emerge for sentencing, perceptions of victim suffering, or anger toward defendant.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: February 1, 2013