Jury decision making


Introduction and conformity

  • Jurys can be influenced by many things including conformity, majority and minority influence, physical characteristics of the defendant and pretrial publicity.
  • Conformity - a change in behaviour or attitudes as a result os real or imagined group pressure. Conformity likelihood is increased/decreased depending on group size, unanimity and task difficulty.
  • Asch (1955) - studied how people would change their minds on judging the length of a line after hearing other peoples wrong answers. However, used a volunteer sample - all particiapnts were of the same age and had similar backgrounds making it difficult to generalise to the population.
  • Conformity can effect jurys decisions as it put pressure on the people who have a different opinion to the majority. If people conform and have doubts about it - lead to miscarriage of justice.
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Physical characteristics

  • Ethnicity, gender, attractiveness of the defendant as well as clothes and jewellery can affect what jurors think. 
  • Duncan (1976) varied the etnic group of the perpentrator and victim in a video tape of a potentially violent situation. Participants judged an ambiguous shove as more violent when performed by a black than a white individual. However, this study may not be reliable - lab study - low EV - DC.Also does not state what colour skin the participants had. 
  • However, Mckelvie and Coley (1993) found that attractiveness was irrelevant for imposing fines or setting bail payments for more serious crimes. Positive outlook, shows that in some cases the jury is uneffected by the look fo the offender.
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Majority influence

  • Informational social influence - the need to be right. People assume that if most people share a particular view, then it must be correct. The majority are assumed to supply the correct informaiton in the group which could lead to internalisation infromaity (when someones public and private view changes).
  • Jenness (1932) - people had to guess how many beans were in the jar. First they had to do it individually and then were allowed to discuss thier answers with each other. When allowed to discuss, the participants changed their answers similar to each others. 
  • Informational social influence can influence the jurys decision - juors may not know what to think about a particular case and agree with everyone else as they believe they must be right. Lead to defendants being found guilty.
  • Normative social influence - individuals need ot be liked. People fear rejection which created social pressure and seek to conform to the norms of the group. Lead to compliance confromity (when someones private and public view are different). This could have an effect on a jurys decision as some jurors may agree with others, even if they dont feel the same as they feel their verdict must be wrong if everyone else thinks the same answer - lead to miscarriage of justice.
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Minority influence

  • Minority influence can be seen being more effective than majority influence as it makes the majoirty question their opinions.
  • Mugny and Papasamou (1980) said that the majority are more likely to be listened to if they are flexible and willing to compromise.
  • Moscovici (1969) - each individual of a group consisting of 4 participants and 2 confederates judge colours of blue and green slides. if the confederates (minority) said green most of the time, the participants answered wrongly 1.25% of the time. if they consistantly said green, the error rate of participants rose to 8.42%. Shows that consistency of minority can can influence a wider group.
  • Minority influence can affect jury decision making as it can make the majority question their opinions and thoughts leading them to be not as confident - could lead to people being found not guilty as there is a possibility they may have not committed the crime.
  • However % is very low and even though, participants error rate rose, it is very small - be misleading as minority may not be able to influence such as large gorup of people as the evidence is trying to say.
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Pre-trial publicity

  • Pre-trial publicity - jurors have prior knowledge of the case before thye sit in the court room. Could be due to media being involved and airing other peoples views about the defendant. 
  • Padwar-singer and Barton (1974) had 2 groups listen to tapes of a trial and asked to reach a verdict. In the group that were exposed to adverse publicity 78% of participants found the defendant guilty. The gorup not exposed 55% found them guilty. 
  • Have an influence on the jurys decision making as if they already know things about the defendant and take on board what journalists say, may use theor opinion and change their decision, a defendant may be wrongly accused of a crime.
  • Research of juries can be difficult as publification of a jury case is forbidden. Instead mock juries are used, which may not have the same effect as real juries. All studies lack EV and mundane realism - something participants dont ususally come across. Alter all conclusions that have been made on jury decision making, as researchers can never be certain what or how influences affect juries decisions.
  • Conclusion - variety of factors that affects jurys decision making, including enthicity, physical attractiveness, minority and majority influence and pre-trial publicity. These influence could lead to a misscarriage of justice.
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