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Characteristics of the Defendant
In an ideal world, a jury would be made up of unbiased and unprejudiced people, intelligent enough to comprehend
the evidence and with the necessary verbal and social skills to contribute to discussion. In the real world however,
research has shown that jury verdicts are influenced by irrelevant aspects of the defendant such as their physical
attractiveness, gender, race and even their accent.
Physical attractiveness:
It does seem to be the case that attractive people are less likely to be considered guilty of crime and that they are
often also judged to be more intelligent, confident, happy and truthful than their less attractive counterparts.
Describe the procedures and findings of the study by Saladin et al. (1988).
Participants were shown eight photographs of men who were of varying degrees of attractiveness.
They were given no other information about each man and were then asked how capable each man would be of
a) murder and b) armed robbery based on their appearance.
The photographs were independently rated by a separate group for attractiveness before being shown to the
main group of participants. This is important because the researchers can't rate the photographs themselves.
If the faces were more attractive then these people were viewed as being less likely to be considered guilty of
either crime.
However, if the participants did say they were guilty then the sentencing was more lenient for those who were
`physically appealing'.
The response of the participants is even more exaggerated if the photographs are of women.
Of course this was a mock jury situation. However, it seems that the phenomenon is also observed in the
Describe the procedures and findings of the study by Downs and Lyons (1991).
The researchers analysed the fines and bail payments of 1'500 defendants accused of minor crimes, and also
asked police officers to rate these defendants on attractiveness.
There was a negative correlation between perceived attractiveness and the amount of bail payment and/or fine
given to defendants.
This happened even though the police officers didn't know the aim of the study and it was double blind.
Castellow et al (1990). The effects of physical attractiveness of the plaintiff and defendant in sexual harassment
judgements. Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality, 5, 547562.
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that juries make decision about the personality and
character of the defendant based on their appearance.
Firstly, participants were asked to read the trial summary of a case in which a 23 year old
secretary-receptionist accused her male employer of sexual harassment. It was alleged that he repeatedly

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Secondly, participants were shown photographs of the defendant (the employer) and the plaintiff (the
secretary) and asked to decide whether the defendant was guilty or innocent. Participants were shown one
of four different combinations of photographs.…read more

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Skolnick and Shaw (1997) used 213 students in a mock trial and varied the defendant's race and celebrity status.
Celebrity status did not affect the verdict but race did.
Juror's race Defendant's race Guilty verdict Not guilty verdict
Black Black 19% 33%
Black White 34% 15%
White Black 19% 29%
White White 23% 30%
Consider the real life case of O.J. Simpson in 1994/1995. This was viewed as a race related trial by many.…read more

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In a real case, the actual jury would spend much longer deliberating than in a study ­ and would be exposed to
more evidence in different degrees on different days as the case progressed.
A researcher in a study wouldn't be able to provide the full amount of evidence to participants ­ particularly if
they're studying the effects of one characteristic such as race or accent. In a real trial then, the jurors would
be exposed to a lot more information.…read more

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Lawyers will be careful about when key witnesses or evidence are presented, ideally at the beginning and end
of the trial.
Inadmissible Evidence:
A study by Broeder (1959) was conducted in Chicago to test the effect of information being ruled inadmissible by
a judge.
What does `inadmissible' mean?
Not to be entertained or allowed ­ the jury must ignore it.
The participants were actually on jury service at the time and agreed to take part in an experimental mock jury too.…read more

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ROSS et al.'s study, also has good ecological validity as it was based on a real case, filmed in a real courtroom and
used legal professionals as actors. However, participants watched this trial on video and some watched video of
someone giving evidence on video which may have affected not only the ecological validity of the study but also
the CONCLUSIONS (one of the conditions should have been seeing the witness in person).
Broeder's study is more difficult to assess.…read more

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In your opinion, are members of the jury more likely to be swayed by Informational Social Influence or
Normative Social Influence? Why?
ISI ­ it is important to get the decision right, and you may think the others have a greater understanding of the
case than you.
NSI ­ you might not want to stand out from the crowd.
Sometimes it depends on the type of case, and type of personality.…read more

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Find out about the real life case of Sally Clark who was wrongfully convicted of killing her two children.
Explain how the jury was influenced by statistics in this case.
An expert (Professor Sir Roy Meadow) suggested that there was a one in a 73 million chance of two children,
from the same family, dying in the same way. The estimation was actually incorrect and based on a faulty
assumption.…read more

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Discuss (or critically consider) the treatment and punishment of crime.
All questions will be worth 25 marks. You will have about 35 minutes to write this essay. You will have a couple of
minutes to read and possibly amend your answer.
The 25 marks are divided into 10 marks for AO1 and 15 marks for AO2. This means you should write a little bit
more evaluation than description. You also need to make sure that your evaluation is well developed.…read more

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It may also be worthy of note that trial by jury is, on the whole, a fair way of making these important
Try to ensure that you essay flows and that it isn't just a series of brief, unconnected paragraphs. You will not get
full marks unless you develop a coherent argument.…read more


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