Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jacquin, Krstine

Committee Member

Klein, Stephen

Committee Member

Armstrong, Kevin

Committee Member

Fee, Virginia E.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


This study investigated whether a defendant?s history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and/or personality disorder (PD) diagnosis affected juror decision-making in a child sexual abuse trial. The personality disorders in the study were borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (APD). Participants were 186 college students who read a summary of the trial and then made various juror decisions. The defendant?s CSA history, alone or combined with PD diagnosis, did not affect guilt ratings or sentence recommendations, indicating that jurors did not automatically assume that a defendant who had been abused as a child was guilty (as an adult) of being an abuser. However, when the defendant had a PD diagnosis, there were higher guilt ratings than when there was no PD diagnosis. PD diagnosis was the best predictor of guilt ratings, suggesting that jurors perceive defendants more negatively if they have borderline or antisocial personality disorder.