The impact of Developmental Language Disorder in a defendant's description on mock jurors' perceptions and judgements

Hobson, Hannah M. and Woodley, Jemma and Gamblen, Samantha and Brackely, Joanna and O'Neill, Fiona and Miles, Danielle and Westwood, Claire (2022) The impact of Developmental Language Disorder in a defendant's description on mock jurors' perceptions and judgements. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders. ISSN 1368-2822

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Background: While it has been posited that young people with language needs may be viewed more negatively (e.g. as more rude, less cooperative) than those without language needs, the impact of knowing about a person’s language needs on others’ perceptions has yet to experimentally tested.
Aims: This study sought to examine whether the presence of a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) diagnosis in a defendant’s information would affect mock juror ratings of guilt, sentence length, credibility and blameworthiness.
Methods & Procedures: 143 jury eligible participants read a vignette of a non-violent crime. Half of the participants (N= 73) were told the defendant has a diagnosis of DLD, while half (N= 70) were not told.
Outcomes & Results: Preregistered analyses found that DLD information affected ratings of credibility and blameworthiness, though not judgements of guilt or sentence length. Unregistered content analyses were applied to the justifications participants gave for their ratings: these suggested that participants who did not have the DLD information judged the defendant more on his personality and attitude, and drew more links to his (perceived) background, while participants who received the DLD information condition made more reference to him having cognitive problems.
Conclusions & implications: Unlike in previous studies of the impact of autism information, information about a defendant’s DLD did not affect mock jurors’ likelihood of finding them guilty, or lead participants to give longer sentences. However, our findings suggest knowing a person has DLD does affect others’ perceptions of credibility and blameworthiness.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
29 June 2022Accepted
10 September 2022Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: language disorder, youth justice, awareness
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-06 - allied health > CAH02-06-01 - health sciences (non-specific)
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-02 - applied psychology
CAH16 - law > CAH16-01 - law > CAH16-01-01 - law
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Claire Westwood
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 19:02
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 19:02

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