Award Winner

Outstanding Poster Presentation

Document Type

Poster Presentation


Psychology of law and research pertaining to the legal system is presently a growing field of study in the academic arena. The present research was intended to incorporate the use of various psychological principles and understandings to an issue that is relevant to our society today, and especially applicable to the criminal justice system.

Relating to both, is the widely know phenomenon of stereotyping, which is common place in our society. According to Webster's II (1988) dictionary, a stereotype is an oversimplified opinion, conception or belief. Stereotypes are often used, and can be beneficial in simplifying and generalizing items or ideas into specific categories. A problem does arise however, when stereotyping occurs with humans. This happening is often related to a lack of differentiating knowledge about individuals and results in preconceptions and prejudice.

In order to better understand, and eventually prevent stereotyping from becoming an increasing problem in the criminal justice system, the examination of stereotyping of criminals for specific crimes is necessary to determine what may play a role in participant's perceptions of criminals. The present research focuses on determining any patterns regarding the types of descriptive labels that are assigned to various faces. This was done by asking participants to provide three adjectives they felt pertained to each face. In addition, associations of particular crimes with certain faces was also assessed.

Insight can be gained from this research on the issue of stereotypes and schemas individuals have about criminals and particular crimes. The findings are intended to better educate those who will be working in the criminal justice system in order to make these employees more aware of the possible problems that coincide with stereotypes and judgments of guilt.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2003 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA