Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Scantlen, Anthony J.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Journalism


Mass media--Psychological aspects; Criminal justice; Administration of--Psychological aspects


This study examined the impact of different media (television and print) on people's perceptions of crime and punishment. An experimental design was used and 61 Northern Illinois University psychology students served as subjects. Subjects were randomly assigned into one of two treatment groups. One group watched a series of four televised broadcasts about a murder case in Rockford, Illinois. The other group read a series of newspaper-like articles about the same case. The experiment explored whether different media treatment groups would produce different opinions of the defendant and his appropriate punishment. The impact was assessed in each of four stages in the criminal justice process: the arrest, trial, verdict, and sentence. Results showed no significant differences in subjects' opinions of the defendant — or attitudes regarding his punishment — between the television and newspaper treatments. The findings as to whether subjects' opinions changed dramatically over time (across stages) were mixed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [79]-84)


x, 101 pages




Northern Illinois University

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Media Type