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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75839 Find in a Library
Title: Effects of Consensus Requirements and Multiple Decisions on Mock Juror Verdict Preferences
Journal: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology  Volume:17  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:1-15
Author(s): J H Davis; R W Holt; C E Spitzer; G Stasser
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Grant Number: BNS-77-15216
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The mechanics of jury decisionmaking in determining guilt or innocence and in making sentencing recommendations were investigated in this study involving 659 social psychology students.
Abstract: The participants were either assigned to six-person juries (CN=618), or were asked to deliberate alone (N=41). All of the participants were exposed to video and audiotape recordings of instructions followed by a voir dire questionnaire and then by a prerecorded enactment of a rape trial lasting about 50 minutes. All participants then answered questions about their perceptions of guilt or innocence. The group was then broken into juries. Some were instructed to debate until a decision was reached by five of six jurors and others were instructed to consider sentencing and to recommend, if appropriate, a sentence. Juries in the latter cases were allowed to debate for 20 minutes. Finally, all subjects completed a postexperiment questionnaire. Juries with sentencing expectations yielded a higher proportion of guilty verdicts and a lower number of innocent or hung jury verdicts; however, no significant differences were found. Both sentencing expectation and verdict requirement elevated the proportion of guilty verdict preferences. Individual jurors were fairly certain about the results of their juries' decisions and perceived a higher degree of consensus than was exhibited in actual jury polls. In the absence of an initial majority, no verdict juries were more likely to exhibit substantial defendant bias; in cases where an initial majority of nonverdict jury members favored not guilty, these juries were more likely to shift further in the not guilty direction than juries required to reach a verdict. Tabular data and 18 references are included.
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Behavioral science research; Jury decisionmaking
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