Forensic Psychology - Reaching a Verdict

Looking at the studies by Hastie (1983), Asch (1955) and Nemeth and Watchler (1974).

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Reaching a Verdict

Reaching a Verdict

When the evidence has been given in the courtroom, the jury retire into a locked room, where they are sworn to secrecy, to reach their verdict.

Evaluation Issue with the following research - As the jurors are sworn to secrecy, the researchers cannot find out what the actual process of reaching a real verdict is like, so they have to conduct mock trials/deliberations about trials etc. This means a lack of ecological validity in most trials into courtroom behaviour, and this means that it is less applicable to real life situations in court.

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Hastie et al. (1983)

Hastie et al. 1983 - Stages and influences in decision-making.

Hastie suggests that the jury discussions go through this model:

Orientation period: - Relaxed and open discussion; Set the agenda; Raise questions and explore facts; Different opinions arise.

Open Confrontation: - Fierce debate; Focus on detail; Explore different interpretations; Pressure on minority to conform; Support for the group decision is estabilished.

Reconciliation: - Attempts to smooth over conflicts; Tension released through humour.

He applied findings from social-psychological research of group dynamics to the "jury" for his research. Evaluation Issue: It is a theory, so there is no imperical evidence to support his asssumptions.

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Asch (1955)

Asch (1955) - The power of majority influence and conformity.

Asch investigated the effects of people conforming to a majority influence during an unambigious task.

Methodology: Lab experiment, where Asch arranged for a naive participant to be asked a question to which several stooges had already answered in front of them, both who had clearly given the wrong answer.

Results: He discovered that people conformed one out of three times (32%). It is suggested that there are two main reasons why we conform to majority influence; The need to belong to a group and the need to be right, which is why 32% of people ignored the clearly right answers and opted for the wrong answer.

Evaluation Issue - Unknown if extraneous variable were fully controlled, therefore they could have affected the results.

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Nemeth and Watchler (1974)

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