Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Patricia deWinstanley

Committee Member(s)

Travis Wilson
Cindy Frantz


Criminal, Gender, Masculinity, Implicit cognition, Law, Mental health, Violence, Media, M’Naughten Rule


The present research investigates how masculine dominance in the criminal justice system is upheld through misleading media representations of violent criminality in women as predicated upon masculine traits or mental illness and masculine Identity Protection Cognition (which demonstrates the how implicit social information influences an individual to make judgments in favor of protecting their own socially dominant group). Responses to an online survey of 413 participants demonstrated that overall participants assumed men to be more likely than women to engage in violent action, and violence in men was judged to be a function of power, whereas violence in women was believed to be a reaction to victimization by a man. Overall participants rated violent women as more likely than men to have a mental illness, however the opposite was true for extremely masculine participants. For the purposes of this study mental illness was defined by the M'Naughten Rule, used in common law jurisdictions to identify if the defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity. Participants judged perpetrators exhibiting psychotic, histrionic and/or romantically obsessive symptoms to be more likely female, whereas perpetrators exhibiting anti-social, hypersexual or vengeful symptoms were assumed to be men. Extremely masculine participants were more likely to excuse sexually violent and psychopathic male perpetrators as not guilty by reason of insanity while women who acted violently because of postpartum depression/psychosis and even Battered Woman's Syndrome were not excused under the M'Naughten Rule.

Included in

Psychology Commons