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Jury Deliberation

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When it comes to the deliberation of juries, there are several influences and processes that are involved. They can mainly be divided into intra psychic influences and inter-personal influences. Psychologists have researched the various factors that come under these two broad categories through many experiments which have yielded valuable insights into the understanding of jury deliberation. Intra psychic influences are those that are formulated within the character of the juror. Examples of such intra psychic influences include the attribution theory and any stereotypes they may have. The attribution theory is one of the major factors that contribute to a decision that a juror makes. It seeks to find out the causes of the way people behave, and to what they attribute these causes to. Heider (1958), who is the founder of the attribution theory, divided it into two sections. They are situational attribution and dispositional attribution. A dispositional attribution is based on a person's character, while a situational one takes what happened during the scenario into account. When jurors consider the attributions to the causes of the way criminals behave, they often make assumptions that are false. This then leads them to a conclusion which is not entirely true. There is a range of such factors that may contribute to the arrival of these biased conclusions. The fundamental attribution error, the just world hypothesis and hedonistic relevance are examples of such factors. The fundamental attribution error happens when there is more emphasis placed on the disposition of an individual rather than on the effect of the situation. ...read more.


Hedonistic relevance is a principle which states that the magnitude of pain or pleasure caused by an action, has an effect on whether someone would attribute it to dispositional factors rather than situational ones. Hence the degree of seriousness in the consequences of the action becomes of more importance than the act itself. This principle was researched by Walster (1966) who asked participants how responsible a car owner was when the brake cable on the hand brake was rusted and broken and the car had rolled down a hill as result. Participants were asked about the responsibility of the car owner according to various alterations to the situation, such as if someone was injured as a result of the car rolling down the hill as opposed to if someone was not etc. In accordance with the theory, most people placed a higher level of responsibility on the car owner if someone was injured i.e if the consequences had more serious implications. This study however, has been criticised because it has utilized the word 'responsible' in a very vague manner. The nature of the word 'responsible' when applied to this particular context is subjective, and different people would interpret the meaning of 'responsible' in various ways. They may view responsible easily by just implying that their actions were a direct cause of the accident whereas others may say a person is responsible only if they could have had the foresight to see what might have happened as a result of not taking the necessary precautions. ...read more.


This showed normative social influence, where they have complied but secretly maintained their private belief. Asch's experiment showed that people were willing to deny what they were seeing in their own eyes in order to follow what the majority thought. However the nature of this task is simple compared to that of the deliberations of juries where they would have to discuss their decisions instead of giving one word answers, and hence would make an effort to try and defend their opinions. Therefore the study lacked ecological validity. Asch's study has been replicated successfully by other experimenters such as Crutchfield, but it is also worthy to note that there have been unsuccessful attempts at the experiment. It was repeated by Perrin and Spencer (1981) using UK science students and the rate of conformity was only 1 in 396 trials. Another similar authority is Larsen (1974), which was conducted in the USA. The difference in the results of these experiments creates a grey area in the subject. It reinforces the fact that experiments are just experiments and may not always translate to the real world, and in turn affects our reliance on these studies with relation to conformity within jury deliberation. Due to the fact that the study of actual jury deliberation is prohibited, we would always have to rely on instruments such as experiments and surveys to help us understand the decision making process of juries. Although there have been significant advances in the field, there is research that has failed to do so because of their ambiguity and subjectivity. ?? ?? ?? ?? 0818158 1 ...read more.

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