Reaching a Verdict

Mind map of studies in the 'Reaching a Verdict' section of Forensic Phychology.

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  • Reaching a Verdict
    • Persuading a Jury
      • Pennington and Hastie
        • Lab experiment and self report. The defense and prosecution were either told in story order or witness order. All Ps listened to a tape recording of a stimulus trial (Caldwell vs Massachusetts) and responded to written questions (verdict, confidence measured on 5 point scale). Completed individually.
        • 130 students from Northwestern Uni & Chicago Uni who were paid in the 1 hour experiment. Allocated to 1 of 4 groups.
        • Guilty verdict 80%- highest when defense was witness order and prosecution was story order. Drops to 30% when reversed. Confidence was highest when Ps heard prosecution or defense in story order, lowest in witness order.
        • To investigate whether story evidence summaries are true causes of final verdict decisions and to what extent story order evidence affects confidence in decisions.
        • Primary and recency effect were controlled for so this shows how persuasive story order is (more effective for prosecution). Can be confusing for jury.
        • Murdoch (1962): primary effect: words listed at the beginning are more likely to be remembered. Recency effect: Words listed at the end are more likely to be remembered.
        • Cognitive, deterministic, low EV, ethnocentric (with cross cultural application), situational, snapshot, reductionist.
      • Cutler et al
        • Lab experiment with videotaped mock trial. IVs: Witness identifying conditions, witness confidence ( on identification of robber, form of testimony from expert witness (statistical/ descriptive), expert witness opinion (on a 0-25 scale) on how good WIC were. Ps viewed robbery video in groups then completed a questionnaire individually for: verdict, confidence (rating scale), memory test.
        • 538 undergraduates for extra credits in their introductory psychology course.
        • To investigate whether hearing about psychological research from an exert witness can affect a jurors decision.
        • Expert witnesses offer insight into a crime (e.g. witness identifying conditions) discussing issues that could effect reliability.
        • When WIC were good: more guilty verdicts (which increased when an expert gave a descriptive testimony. Jurors felt more confident when witness was confident. High recall of testimony & details. WIC influence a jurors verdict especially after the expert testimony.
        • Juries persuaded by witness confidence. Both defense and prosecution can use to their advantage (to help witness prepare with body language and confidence).
        • Cognitive, deterministic low EV, low generalisability, reductionist, ethnocentric, useful.
      • Pickel
        • Cognitive, deterministic, low EV, ethnocentric with cross cultural application, situational, snapshot, reductionist, low generalisability.
        • 236 Ball state Uni psychology students (course requirement).
        • Jurors who heard critical evidence rules inadmissible and heard explanation lead to verdict more likely to be guilty (couldn't disregard info).
        • To look at the effect of prior convictions, the role of the judge's instructions when followed by legal explanation and to examine the effect of witness credibility.
        • Calling attention to inadmissible evidence leads to juror paying more attention. Deciding whether to take notice of it leads to the 'backfire effect'. As long as tactic is available to both sides and is administered impartially by judge, it could be a persuasive tool and is a minor matter.
        • Evidence relevance must outweigh possible prejudice (Wolf and Montgomery 1977). Inadmissible evidence has little affect on verdict except when drawn attention to.
        • Mock audiotaped trial of fictional theft. Critical evidence 'accidentally' introduced and objected by attorney then either allowed or overruled by judge. Sometimes legal explanation provided. Questionnaire: verdict, estimate of possible guilt of defendant, extent to which knowledge of prior conviction caused guilty verdict (10 point scale), credibility rating. Control: no evidence.
    • Witness Appeal
      • Ross et al
        • Mock trial based on court transcript, professional actors and film crew, 3 versions created (open court, child behind 4x6 ft screen, video link). 2 hour film of alleged abuse (single touch while bathing child) of father on child including mother, 2 expert witnesses and the child. Judge warned jury not to imply guilt by use of protective devices. Ps gave verdicts, rated credibility of child and defendant.
        • Guilty verdicts no difference between conditions. 58.6% females vs 38.6% males found defendant guilty. Credibility didn't differ but females rated defendant less credible than males and child as more credible than males.
        • 300 college students (even gender split) from introductory psych class.
        • Follow up: same as before but tape stopped after child testified. Clear difference with results: ps in open court far more likely to convict, gender not significant. Suggests defendant isn't more at risk using protective devices.
        • To see if protective shields and video tapes increase guilty verdicts. To investigate the effect of protective devices on jury reaction to testimony  (do they experience credibility inflation or deflation?)
        • Social and cognitive, free will, low EV, necessary mild deception, situational and individual, snapshot, quantitative, holistic.
        • Courtroom traumatic for children. From defendants view: childs evidence by video link- implying child needs protection- more likely seen as guilty. Does shield make child look fragile and unreliable? (credibility deflation)
      • Castellow
        • Lab experiment using a mock trial format, sexual harassment case with questions. Case with photos of victim & defendant (previously categorised 1-9 on attractiveness), the DV being 'Do you think Mr Radford is guilty of sexual harassment?' Ps rated defendant and victim on 11 bipolar scales e.g. dull-exciting
        • 71 male and 74 female students for extra credit in an introductory psych course at East Carolina Uni.
        • Physically attractive defendants and victims rated positively on other personality variables. Attractive defendant: 56% guilty. un-attractive: 76% guilty. Vitim attractive: 77% guilty. Victim un-attractive: 55% guilty. No gender differences.
        • To see if an attractive defendant is less likely to be seen as guilty. To look at gender differences.
        • Applying to courtroom, is seems that appearance does have a powerful effect. A defendant would be well advised to make the best of their appearance when appearing in court.
        • 2 sorts of cognitions- 1. rational and logical 2. irrational and emotional. 'what is beautiful is good' (Dion 1972). Attractive person- attractive personality.
        • Social & cognitive, deterministic, low EV, unethical to rate attractiveness (embarrassment), ethnocentric, individual and situational, snapshot, quantitative, reductionist.
    • Reaching a Verdict
      • Asch
        • Lab experiment. Shown a series of lines. 'Which line, A,B, or C matched the stimulus line X'? Groups of 7-9 Ps only 1 naive. Confederates gave the same incorrect on 12/18 trials. Naive Ps goes last.
        • 123 American male undergrads.
        • 32% conformity rate. No one conformed on all. 25% didn't conform once. 75% conformed at least once. Ps experienced stress. Control trial: Ps make mistakes 1% of the time.
        • To find out how people behave when given an unambiguous task.
        • Shows impact majority can have on an individual. Reasons to conform: normative influence (fit in), informational influence ( others more well informed). Higher conformity on an ambiguous task e.g. reaching a verdict. 1.Internal locus (you control fate and destiny) 2. External locus ( events out of your control). Internal locus more likely to resist conforming.
        • A classic study to see if people would still conform when the correct answer was obvious.
        • Social, free will, low EV, ethnocentric, situational, reductionist, reliable, individual differences.
      • Hastie
        • IV: jury decision rule: 1. unanimous 12/12 2. majority 10/12 3. majority 8/12. DV: 1. verdict reached 2. deliberation time 3. content analysis of video taped jury discussions 4. interviews after with 26 Ps.
        • Controlled lab experiment using 69 mock juries (drawn from the Massachusetts jury pool) all assessing the same murder case (presented by actors in 3 1-hour segment- very realistic stimulation of a real murder trial.
        • Mode verdict: 2nd degree murder. Mean deliberation time (12/12): 2hr 18m. Mean deliberation time (8/12): 1hr 15m. The 12/12 continued talking 20% of total time after reaching 8/12.
        • To observe the group social processes involved in jury decision-making. Find out whether jury decision rule affects verdict and quality of decision making.
        • Orientation period (relaxed, set agenda, raise qu's), open confrontation (fierce debate, focus on detail, pressure on minority to conform), reconciliation (smooth conflicts, release tension through humour).
        • A 'hung jury' is one in which they can't agree unanimously. Different countries have different thresholds in order to pass a verdict.
        • The decision rule didn't directly affect verdict reached but it did influence the quality of decision making.
        • Social, deterministic, high EV, ethnocentric, situational, reductionist, reliable.
      • Nemeth and Watchler.
        • Lab experiment of mock trial. Deciding compensation on accident. 1st individual decision. 2nd group discussion at rectangular table. Confederate sticks at $3000 compared to $10-25000. Condition 1: experiment chooses seats. 2: Ps choose seats, stooge choosing head of table.
        • Group of 5 Ps (1 stooge) from adult sample of students.
        • More influence on condition 2. Juries decided on lower compensation. Exerts influence when consistent and perceived autonomous. When influential- carried over to second case.
        • To investigate the influence of perceived autonomy and consistency on minority influence.
        • Confederate choose seat- autonomous and confident. Persuasive. Real jury- long table- too much influence on one juror?
        • Moscovici (1985): colour perception on groups of 6 Ps. slides all blue. Stooges 'all green' (condition 1) '2/3 green' (2) 'inconsistently given answers' (3). Consistency of minority is ersuasive.
        • Social, both free will and deterministic, low EV, ethnocentric, situational, both reductionist and holistic.


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