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Characteristics of defendent

Characteristics of the defendant - age, race, clothing/hairstyle and attractiveness can influence whether the jury later find him/her guilty or not. For example, unattractive defendants are much more likely to be found guilty than attractive defendants. Also, black defendants are more likely to be found guilty than white defendants, when accused of the same crime.

Castellow - In a mock jury trial, he presented jurors with photos of more & less attractive male employees accused of sexual harassment by their receptionist. He found the jurors were more likely to find attractive people not guilty, (particularly if the victim was unattractive) and less attractive people guilty – perhaps due to the halo effect. Attractive people were found guilty 56% of the time, unattractive people 76% of the time.

This suggests that a jury’s decision can be shaped by factors other than the evidence (such as how a person looks).


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Majority influence

Majority influence - Research suggests that a juror in a minority can be influenced to conform to the view of the majority during discussion.

Using his three lines apparatus, Asch showed that 75% of his pps were prepared to deny the evidence of their own eyes at least once in order to fit in with the majority - In a jury situation, the majority view tends to be expressed frequently and confidently.

Thus conformity can occur because a juror wants to fit in and be accepted by other jurors (normative influence), or perhaps even begins to doubt their own opinion on guilt or innocence (informational influence). Many jurors will not “fight their corner” when out of step with the other jurors.

+Strasser & Stewart - In artificial lab conditions he allowed the majority of a group to share the same information, but he gave different information to just one person. Even after being told to discuss all the information, the group discussion focussed entirely on the shared information, and ignored the non-shared information. This suggests group decisions in situations such as a jury, conform to the majority view. 

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Minority influence

Minority influence- which occurs during discussion. Research suggests that sometimes one or two jurors who are out of step with the majority, can sway the group round to their minority opinion.

Moscovici showed that 32% of majority pps conformed to the minority view that coloured slides were green at least once - It was found that pps answered incorrectly (in line with the minority) on 1.25% of trials when the minority said ‘green’ most of the time but went up to 8.42% of trials when the minority were completely consistent in their answer of ‘green’.

This suggests that consistency of the minority was an important factor in changing the majority’s opinion. 

+Nemeth & Brilmayer. He used a mock jury trial set up, when the jury were deciding on compensation after a skiing accident. He found a minority juror who was consistent yet flexible, and prepared to move in the direction of the majority, was able to shape the majority’s decision – particularly if they could get the majority to discuss and debate the arguments that they were putting forward.

This suggests that in some circumstances, a jury’s decision can move towards the view of just one or two jurors rather than the majority.

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+ High on reliability - lad conditions - repeated and retested 

- low on external validity - lab conditions - Nemeth 

- Sampling bias - oppotunity sampling - students - credits - 18-24 - 18-70(jury age) 

Finishing flair - Ethical issues - Rodney King - would the trial of the poice officers have been fairer and the subsequent riots been obvoided, if the jury had been less biased, if the decision had of been made on trial evidence alone ?

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