Psychology of the courtroom

- trial procedures and persuasion techniques

- jury selection and decision making

- children as witnesses

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Adversarial- trial by jury, massiveley impacted by funding

Funded by Pennington and Hastie - primacy produced guilty verdicts.

Inquisitorial- where the judge holds the central case

Persuasion techniques:

  • Yale model of communication
    Primacy and recency effects -PENNINGTON
    Moriss and Moriss - questions in order
  • Witness order
    Lawyers using story order.
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McArdle (2003)

- Witness order is crucial - USA magazine describes successful lawyer (searcy) manipulating order: First witness in morning better than mid-afternoon. Beginning & end of week more memorable than middle - hence prime times for witnesses. revelatory/provocative evidence on friday afternoon - weekend for jury to reflect.

- Primacy theory - first version of story is what jury compare all others to. however, searcy calls adverse witness, thenhelpfulwitness to rebut the adverse witness. Searcy prefers to tell jury they are gonna hear from 2 conflicting witnesses & second is right

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Sigall and Ostrove (1975)

Aim: find if attractiveness of offender gets lighter punishment unless crime related (e.g. swindling)

Sample: 120 mock jurors (60 male and female) - college students

Method: 3 groups: told female defendant was attractive, told wasn't attractive, told nothing. each group split into 2: told about burglary/fraud. cases strongly implied that they were guilty. Subjects asked to recommend sentence (1 - 15 years)

Results: no difference found between gender of jurors in terms of sentencing. Swindle: attractive - 5.45 years, unattractive - 4.35, control - 4.35. Burglary: 2.8, 5.2, 5.1.

Conclusions: attractive people treated more generously - perceived less dangerous, more virtuous. if beauty is 'mis-used' then more dangerous resulting in stiffer sentencing.

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Saywitz, synder and lamphear (1996)

Aim: investigates hyp that young children recall less than older (but just as accurate). evaluates techniques designed by Saywitz et al to help increase recall of young children.

Method: 3 groups young children: 1. trained using techniques aimed to improve recall (visual cues). 2. instructions to remember as much as possible but no special training. 3. no instructions/training. all 3 exposed to stage live event and then tested.

Results: group 1 correctly recalled more than other two (between whom there was no difference). however they recalled more incorrect info to.

Conclusions: there is a great deal of scope for special training to improve the recall of child witnesses, but more research needs to be done to find most effective strategy.

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