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Behav Sci Law. 2014 Jan-Feb;32(1):135-48. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2097. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

The impact of DSM-5's alternative model for personality disorders on criminal defendants.

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  • 1Drexel University, Department of Psychology, 3141 Chestnut Street, Stratton Suite 119, Philadelphia, PA, 19102, USA.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) workgroup on personality disorders initially proposed several revisions to diagnostic criteria and disorder labels, some of which could have had a direct impact on the perception and sentencing of criminal defendants. The recent publication of the DSM-5 included these revisions in an appendix for future research, indicating that the revised criteria require additional research before implementation. This study examined how the proposed changes, if implemented, might affect jury members' sentencing recommendations and perceptions of the defendant. Participants read vignettes in which diagnostic label (antisocial personality disorder vs. dyssocial personality disorder vs. psychopathy) and crime type (white collar vs. violent crime) were manipulated. Results suggest that participants perceived white collar offenders more negatively than violent offenders, and were generally more influenced by crime type than diagnosis. The diagnostic label was most influential on recidivism ratings and participants' perceptions of violent offenders.

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