Discuss the factors effecting the decision making process of Juries

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Discuss the factors effecting the decision making process of Juries

There are a number of factors that may influence the decision making process of juries. The big question is whether juries can make rational, logical decision or will their decisions always be inaccurate due to certain factors. A number of arguments have been put forward to suggest juries do not make a decision just based on evidence and eye witness testimonies.

One factor that could affect the reliability of the decision made by the jury is majority influence. Group processes such as conformity may affect a jury decision if a juror in the minority feels under pressure to agree with the majority. It is possible that doubtful jurors may not “fight their corner” about the case if they're in the minority, resulting in an inaccurate verdict.
Smith and Mackie, in 1996, also went on to explain that majority influence is so overwhelming because; arguments are more numerous, opinions tend to be discussed for longer than views held by one person, the arguments are usually more compelling as people generally believe that if several individuals have came to the same conclusion then it is more likely to be correct and that majority views tend to be expressed more convincingly as people know others are on their side.

P - The idea that the majority can influence the reliability of the juries verdict was supported by Kalven and Zeisel.
E - They found that out of 215 juries with a majority view, only 6 of them changed to the minority view by the end of the trial.
C - Therefore highlighting how the majority view affects the decision in a jury.

P - The idea that the majority can influence the reliability of the juries verdict was criticised by Nemeth in 1977.
E - He found that when the majority vote was a not guilty decision the majority won 16 out of the 18 trials, whereas when the majority vote was a guilty decision the majority won only 7 out of the 19 trials.
C - This therefore suggests that the tendency to conform to the majorities decision isn't fully supported as it could depend on the verdict the majority vote is giving.

P - A weakness of the idea of the majority influence on decisions made in a jury is that it does not take individual differences into account.
E - For example the research does not take into consideration the confidence of the minority and the personal experiences of crime the jury may have.
C - These factors could influence how much the minority fights their corner and therefore could influence how able the majority is to influence the decision.

- Another weakness of the majority influence is that it is reductionist.
E - For example, the decision making process is complex and the verdict cannot be reduced down to the influence of the majority.
C - Therefore the majority influence theory is too simplistic.

A second explanation that could influence the


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