An empirical investigation of insanity defense attitudes: Exploring factors related to bias

Angela L. Bloechl, Michael J Vitacco, Craig S. Neumann, Steven E. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


This study's primary aim was to evaluate factors that influence attitudes toward the insanity defense in a sample of 578 college undergraduates. In addition to a comprehensive demographics survey, participants completed the Insanity Defense Attitude Scale-Revised (IDAS-R) and the Attitude Toward the Death Penalty (ATDP) Scale. Favorable attitude toward capital punishment and misperceptions about overuse of the insanity defense were related to negative attitudes toward the insanity defense. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that possessing a favorable attitude toward capital punishment was the most robust predictor of a negative attitude toward the insanity defense. These findings provide valuable information about factors that create and maintain biases against the insanity defense and suggest areas of inquiry that could aid attorneys in selecting unbiased jurors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Attitudes
  • Capital punishment
  • Insanity defense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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