psychology in the courtroom?

background trial process?
A person, after pleading guilty, is tried by a jury of their peers, selected from the electoral role which contains the name of every UK eligible to vote.
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trial process 2?
12 people between the ages of 18-70 are randomly selected; they are excluded only if they have been incarcerated for more than 5 years or if their doctor decides they are incompetent of making a rational decision
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trial process 3?
The court is presided over by a judge who ensure the trial is fair, and may instruct jurors to disregard information if it was inadmissible (not relevant to the case and may unfairly bias the verdict
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trial process 4?
. In the UK, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty, so the job of the defence is to raise doubt about their guilt rather than prove innocence. The prosecution, which is the state, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
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trial process 5?
The prosecution present their evidence and witnesses first, which can include experts such as medical examiners, profilers, doctors, psychologists, etc… followed by the opportunity for the defence to cross-examine witnesses.
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trial process 6?
The defence then present their evidence and witnesses and the prosecution have the chance to cross-examine.
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trial process 7?
The prosecution then sum up their case, making a closing argument why a verdict of guilty should be made, followed by the defence who argue for a verdict of not-guilty.
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trial process 8?
The jury is then given closing instructions by the judge and sequestered for deliberation (they are put in a room with no contact with the outside world to discuss the evidence) where the jurors elect a foreman from amongst group to lead disscusion
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trial process 9?
once they have reached a unanimous verdict (all agree that the defendant is guilty or not guilty), the court is reconvened and the judge asks the foreman for the verdict
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trial process 10?
If not guilty, the defendant is release; if guilty, a sentencing trial is set which will consider factors which may have diminished the individual’s responsibility for their criminal behaviour. The jury are legally barred from ever discussing this
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biasing factor, halo effect?
Physical attractiveness has been proven to influence the perception of how many other attractive qualities people have- the more attractive you are, the more attractive qualities like kindness, intelligence, honesty, successfulness,
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biasing factor, halo effect? 2
This may also affect the jury’s decision. If the witness/victim is attractive it may lead to more guilty verdicts because they’ll believe their testimony; if the defendant is attractive, they’ll believe their testimony and it lead to more not guity
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signall and ostrove? 1975 sample
120 mixed gender college students
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signall and ostrove procedure?
In an independent measures design lab experiment, participants were given a description of a crime which described the female perpetrator either as attractive, unattractive, or gave no information about attractiveness.
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signall and ostrove procedure 2?
In each of these conditions they also varied the crime so that it was a burglary or fraud. They asked participants to decide on a prison sentence between 1-15 years.
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results/ conclusions?
Participants sentenced the defendant to a mean average of 5.45 years for fraud if attractive and 4.35 years if unattractive, showing that attractive people are judged more harshly if their attractiveness could have aided in their crime.
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results and conclusions 2?
sentenced the defendant to a mean average of 2.8 years for burglary if attractive and 5.2 years if unattractive, showing that the Halo effect influenced their decisions, as attractive people were likely perceived as too good to have committed blue cc
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what did meta- analysis by mazzella and feingold confirm?
that mock jurors were generally more lenient towards attractive defendants than unattractive defendants, when photographs were presented instead of written descriptions as well.
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stewart (1985)
provided more ecologically valid evidence that the Halo effect influences how criminals are judged, finding a negative correlation between participant’s rating of 60 actual criminals
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stewart 2?
(range of ages, 56M, 4F) attractiveness and the severity of their actual punishment, suggesting that the less attractive the defendant, the more harshly they were likely to be punished
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biasing factor witness confidence?
People believe there is a correlation between confidence and accuracy, when in fact it is very small (between 0 and 0.2 according to Cutler et al.).
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witness confidence results in?
This means they are likely to believe an eyewitness if they sound confident, even if their testimony may be inaccurate due to memory distortion or poor witness identifying conditions (distance from perpetrator, if perpetrator was concealing face)
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penrod and cutler? 1995 sample
Undergraduate students and experienced jurors
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procedure penrod and cutler?
In an independent measures lab experiment, different versions of a videotaped mock trial were shown to participants.
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procedure 2?
In one the witness identified the defendant as the perpetrator they saw and said they were 100% confident; in the other version, they said they were 80% confident. The participants were then asked to decide whether the perpetrator was guilt or not
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results/ conclusions?
67% of participants found the suspect to be guilty when the witness said they were 100% compared to 60% when the witness said they were 80% confident. The more confident the witness was, the more likely the jury were to believe them.
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key research, dixon et al (2002) aim?
To test whether accent and race affects perceptions of guilt differently for blue and white collar crimes.
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119 white undergraduate students at University College Worchester (24 male, 95 female, mean age of 25.2), not from Birmingham
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Independent measures design lab experiment with 3 variables: accent (Brummie or Standard English), race (Black or White), and type of crime (Blue collar- armed robbery; white collar- fraud)
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procedure? 1
An audio recording of a police interview of a suspect was played to participants. The same actor was used to voice the police officer and suspect in all versions of the tape: the suspect was able to switch between his own Brummie accent and english
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procedure 2?
What was said during the interview was taken from a transcript of a real police interview conducted in Birmingham. During the interview the police officer explained that a witness had reported seeing someone matching the suspect, black or white + 5'9
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procedure 3?
. He asked the suspect, during the interview if he had committed the ‘fraud’ or ‘armed robbery’
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procedure 4?
The participants were then given a Bipolar rating scale on guiltiness (ranging from 1 being innocent to 7 being guilty), and another standardised test called the Speech Evaluation Instrument which measured judgements about accents, using rating scale
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finding 1?
Brummie accent was rated as superior than the Standard English accent
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finding 2?
The Brummie suspect was rated as significantly more guilty (Mean rating of 4.27) than the Standard English suspect (Mean rating of 3.65).
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finding 3?
The Black, Brummie accented suspect accused of committing Blue collar violent crime was rated the guiltiest compared to all other conditions.
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finding 4?
Superiority and Attractiveness factors, measured by the SEI, accounted for 13% of the variance in participants’ guilt rating
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conclusion 1?
Black, Brummie suspects accused of violent or blue collar crimes are likely to be perceived as guilty by a jury.
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conclusion 2?
Non- Standard English accents may bias a jury against the defendant in court, as they will be perceived as more guilty because of their accent.
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conclusion 3?
A suspect’s perceived Superiority and Attractiveness may predict whether they are guilty or not guilty. It could be that when we perceive some accents as less attractive, due to the Halo effect
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conclusion 4?
, we also believe the accented individuals has other unattractive qualities which would make them a more likely criminal.
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conclusion 5?
Additionally if we perceive an accent to indicate social inferiority we may associate this more with blue collar crime which occurs more in lower socio-economic environment
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conclusion 6?
attributions of guilt are generally made in a far richer evidentiary context than provided through this study, and it is likely that strength of evidence will moderate any effects of accent on legal decision making.
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conclusion 7?
(Moreover, accent may interact in complex ways with other social markers (e.g. a suspect’s gender and age) to shape legal judgments
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expert witnesses
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expert witnesses?
Psychologists may be called to explain how the conditions under which the witness saw the perpetrator and the conditions under which they identified them
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expert witnesses 2?
(i.e. whether the police gave away which person in the line-up was the real suspect), could have an effect on the accuracy of their identification.
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expert witnesses 3?
This is to make the jury consider these conditions in deciding whether the eyewitness’s identification should influence their verdict.
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cutler and penrod 1989, sample?
538 undergraduate students
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: watched a real taped trial, which was edited depending on condition they were grouped into, i.e. some heard from an expert witness and others did not
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procedure 2?
in conditions which heard from the expert witness, some participants heard the expert witness explain what weapon focus effect is (witness focuses on weapon because it’s life threatening and is unlikely to process perpetrator’s face)
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procedure 3?
then say, for example, that ‘Weapon focus effect has a large effect on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony’ (Descriptive condition)
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procedure 4?
whereas others heard the same information but were also told the findings: ‘38.9% of Ps correctly identified the perpetrator when no weapon was visible, whereas only 11.1% in the weapon focus condition correctly identified perpetrator’ (Quantitative)
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what did the researcher test?
Recall of the expert witness’s testimony * The mock juror’s verdicts (guilty/not guilty) * Whether the way the expert witness presented the information had an effect on how well it persuaded the jury:
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findings and conlusions?
85% could recall what the expert said- if they hadn’t it would mean it couldn’t have affected their verdicts.
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finding and conclusion 2?
Significantly more participants gave a guilty verdict when they heard from the expert witness for the prosecution, implying that the expert witness was persuasive in making them consider the witness identifying conditions of the eyewitness’s account
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finding and conclusion 3?
When the expert witness described the effect size of witness identifying factors on the accuracy of eyewitness accounts, it was more persuasive (participants gave more guilty verdicts as witness identifying conditions in this case were good)
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findings and conclusions 4?
than when they gave numerical findings. ‘A large effect’ makes mock jurors imagine a far greater numerical difference between conditions than there actually is.
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trial process 2?


12 people between the ages of 18-70 are randomly selected; they are excluded only if they have been incarcerated for more than 5 years or if their doctor decides they are incompetent of making a rational decision

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trial process 3?


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trial process 4?


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trial process 5?


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