Ageism in the courtroom: mock juror perceptions of elder neglect

Nesa E. Wasarhaley, Jonathan M. Golding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The present study explored ageism in a civil court context. In two experiments, male and female undergraduates (Experiment 1; N = 215) and community members (Experiment 2; N = 203) read an institutional elder neglect trial summary in which a nursing home was sued for failure to provide the necessary care for an elderly female resident. The trial varied as to who provided witness testimony: the live victim, a recorded deposition from the victim, the victim’s middle-aged niece (Experiments 1, 2), the victim’s elderly floor-mate (Experiment 1), or no testimony was provided (Experiment 2). Across both experiments, higher ageism was negatively associated with pro-victim ratings (e.g. victim memory). Ageism indirectly decreased the likelihood of ruling for the plaintiff through ratings of sympathy for the victim and victim memory (Experiment 1), and defendant responsibility (Experiment 2). Trial ratings did not differ based on whether victim testimony was presented live or via recorded deposition (Experiments 1, 2). The results suggest that jurors’ ageist attitudes may engender negative perceptions of an elderly victim, which can affect the outcome of neglect cases. We discuss the potential for these findings to inform legal proceedings and protection of elderly individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-898
Number of pages25
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 21 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Ageism
  • elder abuse
  • juries
  • legal testimony
  • neglect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


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