Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Heather Kleider-Offutt

Second Advisor

Sarah Barber

Third Advisor

Kevin Swartout


Both defendant remorse and criminal appearance contribute to how harshly defendants are sentenced during a criminal trial, wherein signs of remorse are associated with more lenient sentencing punishments, and criminal appearances are associated with harsher punishments. Recent literature suggests that defendants’ faces can naturally look more remorseful or criminal, despite intent, and that these facial cues can impact legal outcomes. The current study investigated the extent to which face-type judgments of remorse and criminality interact to influence legal system punishments for different crimes. Using an online face-judgment task, participants made parole decisions and recidivism judgments while viewing a series of either morphed criminal and remorseful faces or composite faces depicting both remorse and criminality paired with crime scenarios. Results suggest that face-type and crime-type biases significantly influence parole decisions and recidivism beliefs. The findings are discussed in the context of face-type and crime-type biases in the criminal justice system.


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