In this study, we addressed whether victim impact instructions served as a legal safeguard in a capital case involving victim impact testimony. We hypothesized that specific victim impact instructions would moderate the relation between victim impact testimony and death penalty recommendations. One hundred sixty-six participants viewed a simulated videotaped trial in which a victim impact statement was delivered in different emotional conditions. Judge’s instructions were varied as either general instructions or with the addition of specific victim impact instructions. Participant-jurors who heard specific victim impact instructions were less likely to recommend death compared to participants who heard general jury instructions. The value of victim impact instructions as a legal safeguard in capital trials is discussed.
Platania, Judith and Garrett Berman. 2006. "The Moderating Effect of Judge’s Instructions on Victim Impact Testimony in Capital Cases." Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice 2 (2): 84-101