Mariah Sorby

Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Andre Kehn


Racial disparities are a persistent issue within the United States criminal justice system. Past research has investigated how defendant characteristics (e.g., race and phenotype) and juror attitudes and beliefs (e.g., stereotypes and prejudice) influence mock juror case judgments and perceptions. This literature has primarily investigated outcomes for monoracial defendants. However, there is a significant need for research investigating outcomes of multiracial defendants. The purpose of this project was to investigate the influence of phenotype, crime stereotypes, and juror attitudes on case judgments and perceptions of Black-White Biracial defendants compared to White and Black defendants. Participants were randomly assigned to view a case report with an image of a Black, White, or one of two Biracial defendants (i.e., light-skinned, dark-skinned) and a vignette describing one of two racially stereotypic crimes. The results revealed a lack of significant predicted differences in outcomes between biracial defendants and monoracial Black and White defendants. The only significant race by stereotypic crime interactions were on defendant typicality and locus of causality attributions and were in an unexpected direction. Subsequently, racial essentialism and racial prejudice were not shown to moderate the race-crime congruence effect but did have an impact on the sentencing and typicality outcomes of defendants. Perceived defendant typicality was a significant predictor of various case judgments and attributions of behavior, and stability and controllability attributions were found to mediate several of these relationships. Future research should focus on further exploring the treatment of multiracial defendants, as well as the impact of juror racial attitudes, perceived typicality, and attributions of behavior on juror decision-making.