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The following is part of our project “Increasing Access to Justice for Older Adult Victims of Sexual Assault: A Capacity Building Approach”, funded by the Justice Canada Victims Fund.Learn more about this project or consult the full list of resources

 

ABSTRACT:
Implicit ageist beliefs about the warmth and incompetence of older adults may influence jurors’ perceptions and judgments of an older adult’s competence in legal cases hinging on capacity and consent, including elder sexual abuse. However, little is known about the nuances of implicit agism in elder sexual abuse cases, and if it can be attenuated. The current study proposed to address these gaps via a randomized vignette design administered to a community sample of 391 US adults. Mock juror participants evaluated an elder sexual abuse case involving an older married couple, in which the victim had dementia. Results suggest that implicit agism was present among mock jurors, consistent with a warm-incompetence bias, and was predictive of mock jurors’ guilt ratings. Age and dementia-relevant jury instructions and mock juror gender were not found to be predictive of guilt ratings. Implicit agism among jurors should be addressed to reduce the potential for implicit age bias to affect elder sexual abuse cases.

Maggie L. Syme & Tracy J. Cohn (2019):  Elder sexual abuse and implicit agism: examining the warm-incompetent bias among mock jurors, Journal of Elder Abuse &Neglect, DOI: 10.1080/08946566.2019.1695696

To access the full article:  Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect