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NCJ Number: 154288 Find in a Library
Title: Probability, Danger, and Coercion: A Study of Risk Perception and Decision Making in Mental Health Law
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1995)  Pages:49-65
Author(s): P Slovic; J Monahan
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chicago, IL 60603
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two studies examine two issues fundamental to the relationship between dangerousness and coercion in mental health law: how judgments of probability of doing harm and dangerousness are formed and the extent to which these two concepts are equivalent, as well as how much danger is enough to trigger coercive intervention.
Abstract: Study participants were 95 women and 96 men who answered an ad in the University of Oregon student newspaper. Most were university students. They were shown hypothetical stimulus vignettes that described mental patients, and they were asked to assess the probability that the patient would harm someone else, whether the patient should be categorized as "dangerous," and whether coercion should be used to ensure treatment. Findings show that probability and dangerousness judgments were systematically related and were predictive of the judged necessity for coercion; however, judged probability was strongly dependent on the form of the response scale, suggesting that probability was not represented consistently and quantitatively in participants' minds. The second study replicated these findings with forensic clinicians as participants. These results underscore the importance of violence toward others in mental health law and have important implications for the manner in which risk assessments are formulated for use by the legal system. 7 tables, appended study instruments, and 33 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Criminality prediction; Dangerousness; Intervention; Involuntary treatment
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