Decision Making of Juries


Majority Influence

Majority influence is the idea that the majority opinion will cause you to change your own- shown in Asch's (1955) conformity test- there are three types of conformity- compliance, identification and internalisation. 

Informational Social Influence the need to be right- assumes that if most people share that view it must be right
Normative Social Influence need to be liked- people fear rejection, conform with the majority so that they like them, happens in groups of strangers (juries)

Smith and Mackie (1995) said there are three ways in which majority influence is significant:

1. deeper discussions- because there are more people with the same opinion it is focussed on more meaning that the majority go into depth

2. varied opinions- more interpretations of the same opinion, will persuade minority because the belief is being reinforced

3. greater confidence- knowing that most people in the group agree with their opinion makes the majority members more confident 

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Minority Influence

Minority influence is where the minority actually changes the majority opinion- usually by planting some doubt in their opinion, in the case of a jury a guilty verdict can only be given in the circumstance of 'beyond reasonable doubt' 

Moscovici (1969) asked ppts to complete a simple task, asked whether a bag was green or red- if confederates (the minority) incorrectly said green the error rate of real participanta rose to over 8%

He also said the minority has to be consistent, not pushy, confident and committed in order to be influential

Nemeth (1977) said that the minority influence may be more effective because they can plant a seed of doubt in the minds of the majority

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Pre-trial Publicity

Pre-trial publicity is when a juror has knowledge of the case and the defendent before or during their trial that may effect their verdict e.g. the Oscar Pistorius case in South Africa

Padawar-Singer and Barton (1974) gave one group a newspaper cutting about the trial, found that 78% of the group with the pre-trial knowledge gave a guilty verdict compared to the other group which was only 55%

Moran and Cutler (199) found supporting evidence- the more information the jurors were given pre-trial the more likely they were to give a guilty verdict

HOWEVER in both of these studies the jurors didn't think that they were being biased

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Physical Characteristics

Ethnicity- Gordon et al (1988) found that white people were more likely to be convicted of fraud and recieve longer sentences but black people were more likely to be convicted for burglary- showed two types of discrimination and stereotypes

Attractiveness- Stewart (1985) found correlation between how attractive the defendant was and how long the sentence given was// Signall and Ostrove (1975) gave 120 ppts an attractive picture or an unattractive picture of a woman- there were 6 groups, 2x CGs for burglary and fraud and then one for each scenario. They found that a shorter sentence was given for burglary if the defendant was attractive, but a longer one was given for fraud- they proved that there is a stereotype, attractive people use their looks to gain people's trust for fraud whereas they don't associate attractive people with burglary.

HOWEVER... lacks ecological validity because a jury wouldn't be asked to give a sentence, only guilty or not guilty verdict- not a real courtroom experience

Dixon et al (2002) showed participants two interviews, one with a man with a Birmingham accent and another with a standard British one- the ppts found the Birmingham man to be guilty

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Halo effect

The Halo effect is a cognitive bias where we make judgements about people's charatcer based on one trait e.g. you may like one celebrity and you automatically associate them with being kind and intelligent although you hardly know them

Quigley et al (1995) said that the Halo effect is strongest for women accused of non fatal crimes 

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