Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Andre Kehn


The current study investigates whether the level of construal mindset and type of construal task affect juror decision making in hate crimes. The type of construal task (temporal vs. hypothetical), level of construal mindset (abstract vs. concrete), and type of crime (hate crime: racial vs. gay vs. control) were manipulated and measures of attitudes toward hate crime legislation and racial and sexual minorities were assessed. Participants provided sentence recommendations and blame attribution for the perpetrator and victim. Participants first completed a construal task, and then read a crime vignette and rendered sentencing decisions and blame attributions before completing questionnaires assessing attitudes toward hate crime legislation and racial and sexual minorities. It was hypothesized that an abstract (vs. concrete) level task will lead to greater perpetrator blame, less victim blame, and longer sentence recommendations, especially for those participants who disagree with hate crime legislation; there would be no significant difference for those who agree with hate crime legislation regardless of construal level mindset. It was also hypothesized that there would be no difference for the type of construal (hypothetical vs. temporal) on the effect of blame attributions for either the victim or perpetrator or sentencing recommendations. In the concrete construal condition, it was believed that those agreeing with hate crime legislation would be significantly lower in their victim blame ratings, and significantly higher in their perpetrator blame ratings and sentencing length recommendation, as compared to those disagreeing with hate crime legislation; but, in the abstract construal conditions there would be no significant differences between those agreeing and disagreeing with hate crime legislation.