A new study by Cornell University has found unattractive defendants are 22 percent more likely to be convicted than good-looking ones. People who are unattractive were also found to receive harsher sentences – an average of 22 months longer in prison.
The study was composed of 169 Cornell psychology undergraduates, who were classified as either rational or emotional decision-makers, based on survey results. They were then given case studies of defendants, including a photograph and profile, were read jury instructions and listened closing arguments in the case. There wasn’t a significant discrepancy in conviction rates between attractive and unattractive defendants in serious cases with strong evidence. However, in more minor cases, with ambiguous evidence, jurors were more biased toward the good-looking. It is possible the findings could impact how attorneys select juries.