Social Psychology Notes
April 20, 2010
Justice System Continued
Effects of Judges’ Instructions
Disregarding inadmissible testimony and pretrial publicity—priming and paradoxical
o May backfire, because when you try to rid of bad memory you paraxodically
remember it instead.
Legal definitions often fail to match juror “prototypes” of crimes.
Subjective determinations of “preponderance of evidence” and “reasonable doubt”
o Reasonable doubt is open to interpretation, and will often lead to disagreement
among the twelve jurors.
Schematization- creating plausible story for the jury.
o Both the defense and prosecuting attorney are competing to get into the minds
of the jurors their side of the story.
o Jurors will interpret, construe the information in a certain way.
o Great deal of ambiguity in a trial, that’s when schemas are intensified and both
attorneys know this.
Personality Factors- authoritarianism (conviction rate and
o People who judiciously embrace law and order as imposed by authority figures.
Believe it should be enforced with absolute strictness with no leniency or
Quality of evidence is the BEST predictor of jurors’ verdicts.
o Minority influence- power of informational influence
o Group norm formation, conformity, polarization
o Persuasion variables
Why Have Juries?
Group recall > individual recall
o Having 12 people definitely superior to having only one person.
o 12 is optimal for reaching a decision
Forced deliberation requires in-depth thinking—the use of central route (systematic)
processing is increased.
o Think logically, examine evidence to make sure all evidence ties together
Representativeness (diversity) of perspectives.
Attention focused on all of the evidence rather than selective pieces
Restrains use of inadmissible evidence
o Presence of other jurors remind people not to include evidence that the judge
When the evidence is unambiguous and can be understood, most juries render verdicts
consistent with it.