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Marie Sabbagh

Undergraduate Majors:
Undergraduate Minor and
Criminal Justice/ Behavioral Forensics
McNair Mentor:
Dr. Erin Murdoch, Psychology Department
Future Plans:
Forensic Psychology Ph.D.

Marie Sabbagh

Marie Sabbagh was born and raised in Paris, France. She will graduate in May 2012 with her bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice and a behavioral forensic certificate. Alongside being named UCF's Undergraduate Researcher for the month of October, Marie was nominated for Order of Pegasus and is a recipient of the Women's Executive Council Scholarship, the UCF Scholars Award, and the Student Government Association (SGA) Student Achiever's Scholarship. She has two publications and plans on submitting two more to the UCF Undergraduate Research Journal before graduation.
In addition, Marie has interned with UCF Victim Services/Police Department and is president of Psi Chi International Honor Society at the UCF campus in Cocoa, Florida. Marie's research interests focus on the implementation of juvenile sex offender prevention programs and juvenile delinquency prevention programs through empirically supported research. Marie intends on obtaining a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology or a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic specialization.

Title: Examining Neighborhoods Trajectories and Criminal Outcomes Among Female Juvenile Offenders

Conducted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as part of the McNair Scholars Program Summer Research Experience

Mentor: Dr. Preeti Chauhan, Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice


Abstract:The recent narrowing of the gender gap in juvenile arrests necessitates a focus on gender-specific risk factors. The current study seeks to add to the burgeoning literature on female juvenile offenders by examining (1) neighborhood trajectories of female juvenile offenders; (2) the association between trajectories and criminal outcomes; and (3) racial disparities within these associations.  This study will analyze data gathered from the Gender and Aggression Project (GAP), a longitudinal study of incarcerated girls, to determine what types of neighborhoods offending girls live in at 3 different developmental stages. Using the 2000 and 2010 Census tract data, girls’ addresses will be geo-coded to determine neighborhood disadvantage and residential mobility. Further, criminal offending will be analyzed through self-reporting and official arrest data.

Title: Influence of Defendant Mental Illness on Jury Sentencing View PDF

Conducted at the University of Central Florida as part of the Honors in the Major program

Mentor: Dr. Erin Murdoch, UCF Psychology

Awards: Honors in Major Scholarship; Psi Chi Travel Award Southeastern Psychological Association Research Conference

Abstract: Jury sentencing has been the widely supported procedure of the American Criminal Justice system for a century, yet the stigmatization of mental illness that has been falsely influencing the proceedings of the courtrooms has gone unnoticed for too long. It is a common misconception that individuals with schizophrenia are violent deviants and as such they are more likely than defendants who do not carry the burden of a mental illness to receive harsher sentences when involved in criminal activities (Steadman, 1981). This study presented four conditions to which participants were randomly assigned, alone or in a group of three, and were asked to sentence a defendant, either with or without schizophrenia. I hypothesized that group deliberations would result in more lenient sentences for defendants with schizophrenia than individual deliberations would, and that both group and individual deliberations would result in harsher sentences for defendants with schizophrenia than defendants who do not have a mental illness. The results of this study revealed that defendants with schizophrenia were sentenced in a more lenient manner than defendants with no mental illness. However, several other significant findings indicated an indirect negative attitude toward the mentally ill defendant.

Title:Confronting or Self-silencing in Response to Sexist Behavior: Exploring Women’s Willingness to Confront Sexism View PDF

Conducted at the University of Central Florida as part of the Cocoa Social Psychology Research lab.

Mentor: Dr. Erin Murdoch, UCF Psychology

Awards:Honorable Mention Scholarship in Social Sciences III category, 2010 SURE

Abstract:Past studies on confronting sexism suggest that sexism is not an innocuous annoyance but a serious issue with negative psychological impact.  To the best of our knowledge, no other research has utilized a high-impact design to explore how to encourage women to confront sexist behavior.  The present study was designed to explore women’s willingness to confront sexist comments and whether it is possible to increase the level of confrontation by modeling confronting behavior.  Twenty-nine female psychology students were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions, one where confronting behavior was modeled, and one where it was not.  In both conditions, participants were told that the purpose of the study was to evaluate group decision-making processes; in fact, each participant was grouped with two confederates who were following a script that included two prejudicial comments.  The participants’ choices to confront or self-silence were evaluated in terms of condition and questionnaire responses.  Although initial analysis indicated that modeling behavior is not an effective way to increase confrontation of sexist remarks, certain factors (e.g., age, level of self-monitoring, degree of confrontation) did suggest that confronting can be influenced.  The present research also suggests that women lose tolerance for sexist remarks when the behavior appears to indicate a pattern, rather than a one-time deviation.  A surprising number of women indicated that they had confronted when they had not; they even transcribed confrontational comments they had not made.