Reaching a Verdict: Persuading a Jury

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The effect of order of the testimony.

  • The way in which information is received affects how it is processed and recalled.

Pennington: "Effect of memory structure on judgement"

  • Aim: test the hypothesis that jurors are more easily persuaded by "story order" than the "witness order".
  • Participants: 130 university students.
  • Method: ~lab experiment ~mock trial ~evidence presented via taperecorder (of a real case) ~mock jurors had to answer questions about the evidence, present a verdict and rate their confidence (1-5).
  • Results: when prosecution used story order a guilty verdict was returned 78% of the time. When the defence used story order a guilty verdict was received 31% of the time. The mock jurors were also more confident of their verdict when the evidence was received in story order.
  • Conclusion: the way in which information is presented will affect the jurors memory of the case and chronological order is more likely to be influential in changing the verdict as it is easier for jurors to recall later during the deliberation process


  • Trial jurors are open to persuasion especially if an expert witness is called to give evidence.

Mckimmie: "Gender stereotyping and expert witnesses"

  • Aim: investigate the persuasive influence of gender of an expert witness on jury decision making.
  • Participants: 62 psychology students.
  • Method: ~lab experiment ~mock trial ~mock jurors were randomly assigned 1 of 4 conditions based on gender of the expert witness and gender orientation of the case ~mock jurors were given the name and a photo of the expert witness and asked to read a transcript of a price fixing trial (2 companies had been found guilty) ~mock jurors were asked


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