Schematic expectations influence mock jurors' sexual violence case fact recognition

Mary Catlin, Danielle Piggott, Kyle C. Scherr, Jonathan P. Vallano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Victims of sexual violence are often punished by the legal system when their version of the incident—or fact finders' perception of their version—violates expected sexual violence schemas. We investigated the influence of sexual violence schemas on mock jurors' ability to accurately recognize facts presented in a hypothetical case. Participants (N = 155) read a vignette depicting one of four scenarios: expectancy consistent, expectancy inconsistent, no detail control, or no crime control condition. Participants then indicated whether certain evidence (e.g., victim-perpetrator relationship) was presented, and if so, what the correct information was. Although participants generally demonstrated accurate recognition of the case evidence, errors were more likely to be made when the vignette was inconsistent with expected sexual violence schemas. We end with a discussion of how the present research can advance our understanding of the underlying cognitive mechanisms of victim blaming and the practical implications for the legal system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • juror decision-making
  • schema
  • sexual violence


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