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A Comparative Case Vignette Study of Decision Making in Forensic Psychiatric Cases

International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. Vol 8 s. 263 – 270 | 2009


We tested whether the judgment of forensic psychiatric experts differed from that of laypersons.
We constructed 18 case vignettes that were rated by 21 psychologists, 14 psychiatrists, and 126
laypeople on the following variables: Insanity by Legal Terms, Risk of Repeated Offense, and
Need of Treatment. We found significant differences among laypeople and professionals on
all three variables (p = .008, p = .024, and p = .009, respectively), although the differences
were dependent on the composition of the case vignettes. Case vignettes containing negative
descriptions and/or serious crimes were rated high on all variables by laypeople, whereas the
professional groups’ ratings varied according to the variations given in the information.