Decision Making of Juries

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  • Topic: Jury, Jury trial, Verdict
  • Pages : 21 (4552 words )
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  • Published : April 7, 2013
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DECISION-MAKING OF JURIES

Characteristics of the Defendant

In an ideal world, a jury would be made up of unbiased and unprejudiced people, intelligent enough to comprehend the evidence and with the necessary verbal and social skills to contribute to discussion. In the real world however, research has shown that jury verdicts are influenced by irrelevant aspects of the defendant such as their physical attractiveness, gender, race and even their accent.

Physical attractiveness:

It does seem to be the case that attractive people are less likely to be considered guilty of crime and that they are often also judged to be more intelligent, confident, happy and truthful than their less attractive counterparts.

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Describe the procedures and findings of the study by Saladin et al. (1988). -------------------------------------------------

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Participants were shown eight photographs of men who were of varying degrees of attractiveness. -------------------------------------------------
They were given no other information about each man and were then asked how capable each man would be of a) murder and b) armed robbery based on their appearance. -------------------------------------------------

The photographs were independently rated by a separate group for attractiveness before being shown to the main group of participants. This is important because the researchers can’t rate the photographs themselves. -------------------------------------------------

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FINDINGS:
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If the faces were more attractive then these people were viewed as being less likely to be considered guilty of either crime. -------------------------------------------------
However, if the participants did say they were guilty then the sentencing was more lenient for those who were ‘physically appealing’. -------------------------------------------------

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The response of the participants is even more exaggerated if the photographs are of women. -------------------------------------------------

Of course this was a mock jury situation. However, it seems that the phenomenon is also observed in the courtroom.

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Describe the procedures and findings of the study by Downs and Lyons (1991). -------------------------------------------------

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The researchers analysed the fines and bail payments of 1’500 defendants accused of minor crimes, and also asked police officers to rate these defendants on attractiveness. -------------------------------------------------

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FINDINGS:
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There was a negative correlation between perceived attractiveness and the amount of bail payment and/or fine given to defendants. -------------------------------------------------
This happened even though the police officers didn’t know the aim of the study and it was double blind. -------------------------------------------------

Castellow et al (1990). The effects of physical attractiveness of the plaintiff and defendant in sexual harassment judgements. Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality, 5, 547-562.

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that juries make decision about the personality and character of the defendant based on their appearance.

Firstly, participants were asked to read the trial summary of a case in which a 23 year old secretary-receptionist accused her male employer of sexual harassment. It was alleged that he repeatedly made sexual remarks, attempted to kiss and fondle her and described in detail sexual acts he would like to enjoy sharing with her.

Secondly, participants were...
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