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a)How might the view of the majority influence a jury when reaching a verdict?

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Introduction

´╗┐Psychology Revision ? Reaching A Verdict Q1)a)How might the view of the majority influence a jury when reaching a verdict? (10) Juries consist of twelve people, and often their verdicts of guilt or innocence aren?t unanimous. In this case, the view of the majority can greatly influence the minority in reaching a verdict. In a study conducted by Asch ? though not originally a forensic study ? he aimed to show how the views of the minority can be altered by the majority, even when presented with an unambiguous task. The task consisted of line X and comparison lines A, B and C and the five participants (all confederates except one) had to identify which of the lines A, B or C was the same length as line X. ...read more.

Middle

Majority influence, studied by Asch, proved how the majority voice can overpower the minority via use of consistent and confident delivery of beliefs. This, whist never originally a forensic study, can be generalised to courtroom behaviour as the participants used in Asch?s study were strangers that had never met, which reflects the reality of real juries, so it can be considered that the behaviour monitored in the study is similar to what would be observed in a jury. The study was very simplistic and required very little equipment, meaning the cross-cultural replications of the study are available and can increase reliability. However, the study really only pertains to countries or jurisdictions that use the adversarial system of justice in their courtroom; if the courtroom uses an inquisitorial system, then there is no need for a jury and majority influence has no effect. ...read more.

Conclusion

A further influence on courtroom verdicts is primacy effects. Studied by Pennington, who then went on to study the effect of Story Order (chronological) vs. Witness Order, primacy effects were said to influence the jury?s decision in favour of the prosecution because it is the information that is heard first, as opposed to the defence which is heard last. Primacy effects dominate recency effects, and thus the study can be applied to courtroom behaviour because some court cases are very longwinded and go on for months, meaning by the end the attention of the jurors is less active than at the start, and they may miss important pieces of evidence in favour of the defendant. These influences can lower the accuracy of the jury?s verdicts, but they are always present in courtroom and special measures need to be taken in order to cancel them out, though it is not always possible. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This answer consists of two questions for the OCR G543 syllabus. It has one question worth 10 mark for AO1 (knowledge and understanding) and another question carrying 15 marks for AO1 and AO2 (critical evaluation), totally 25 marks altogether. It ...

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Response to the question

This answer consists of two questions for the OCR G543 syllabus. It has one question worth 10 mark for AO1 (knowledge and understanding) and another question carrying 15 marks for AO1 and AO2 (critical evaluation), totally 25 marks altogether. It is my understanding that there would be four of these 25-mark questions to answer within two hours for the G543 exam.

The candidate easily achieves the full ten marks for Question 1. There is an infallible knowledge of the study by Asch into conformity, and an excellent level of control when discussing the procedure, as it is not a very easy study to explain at all. The results cited are all accurate and these are nicely tied back in to the question focus of how a jury might be influence if there is a clear majority opting for one decision and a minority opting for another.

The second question is much harder, but the candidate's answer is very strong, and would be likely to achieve round about 14-15 marks. The knowledge of empirical evidence is exceptional, and it really aids them in being able to attack this question with flair and confidence. They write with assertiveness and show a good understanding of how to consistently link the analysis back to the question of how studies into majority influence can b e observed in a real life courtroom. My only quandary here (though arguably not a large one) is that there is no balance where the candidate might chance to evaluate a study that does not support the idea of majority influence. However, this does not stop the candidate's answer being confident and accurate.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is only measure in Question 2. Here the candidate presents a fairly unconventional structure,l which can make the analysis hard to identify, but this does not hinder them whatsoever. The fresh structure may actually be favoured by examiners who, if having seen one too many exam responses with the same prescriptive structure, become bored and don't appreciate the answers properly.

The analysis is in-depth and shows a great level of attention to the empirical evidence provided by the studies cited in the answer. All the information is used well and whilst some maybe be superfluous, this would only hinder the candidate's chances of finishing the exam on time, rather than any of their marks.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is interesting. Psychology answers like this call for the utmost clarity yet 'purpose-built' language possible. Given that four of these 25-mark questions must be completed within two hours, I recommend the candidate being a little more stark with their language. Whilst there is absolutely no cause for concern with regards to spelling, grammar or punctuation from an English perspective, from a practical perspective using such vocabulary may take too much time and perhaps simple lexes would be a better way of ensuring exam completion.


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