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What effect does the order in which a testimony is presented have on persuading a jury?

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Introduction

´╗┐Psychology Revision ? Persuading A Jury Q3)a) What effect does the order in which a testimony is presented have on persuading a jury? (10) A3)a) The order in a which testimony is heard can have different effects on the jury?s verdict. One such study that investigates this is Pennington?s study on primacy effects. He studied the theory that because the minds of the jurors and all those present in the courtroom are more awake and interested in the trial?s beginning, than in the end when it is believe that the freshness and interest in the trail will have worn off. Because of the adversarial justice system used in UK courts, the jury have the final verdict of guilt or innocence on the accused. ...read more.

Middle

He measured the amount of guilty verdicts in each and found that there was a greater tendency to find the same defendant guilty in conditions that reflected a real adversarial system. This study shows how our adversarial system can lead to a bias of guilt through the presence of primacy effects in the courtroom. Q3)b) Discuss limitations of research into persuading a jury (15) Psychologists have always been interested in courtroom behaviour, and what leads jurors to make the decisions they do, but there are limitations to what they can reliably research. One of the main limitations of psychology in the courtroom is that no-one except the jurors are allowed in the deliberating room when they come to a verdict. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another limitation to conducting psychological research in a courtroom is that none of the proceedings is allowed to be recorded via cameras/journals, etc., unless it is for official purposes such as future reference for the police. So there are problems with the reliability of the memory of the shadow jury if there is no way of accurately recording information, as memory recall is very unreliable (as proven by Elizabeth Loftus, who studied the unreliability of memory reconstruction). A further limitation presents itself in that there is no way of controlling what happens in a courtroom. It is possible that the unpredictability of the lack of control the psychologists have over what happens means that they will not always find what they are looking in courtroom behaviour. All these limitations make psychology in the courtroom difficult, but there are alternatives to increase the reliability of studies conducted in a courtroom. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question is most likely from the OCR G543 syllabus. The first question, worth ten marks, shows a good level of understanding of of how order of testimony (primacy and recency) can affect the jury's verdict in a real court ...

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Response to the question

This question is most likely from the OCR G543 syllabus. The first question, worth ten marks, shows a good level of understanding of of how order of testimony (primacy and recency) can affect the jury's verdict in a real court case. There is a very good level of contextual knowledge shown in this question as well (and in Question 2) with regard to the UK Justice System and the nature of shadow/mock juries. I commend the candidate's presentation of information, and how they nicely tie in the explanations to the question by the end of Question 1.

As for Question 2, this is much harder. The analysis is measured here and show abilities of a candidate who can achieve round about 8/9 marks of the 15 available. This is because the candidate does not display balance and, after a good first two weaknesses, resorts to very poorly explained weaknesses. The first two will most likely be marked very highly, but where this candidate goes wrong is to assume that there is no need to balance. Granted, OCR's wording is appalling and suggests than only one side need be required but in all these questions it is imperative candidate's show balance.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is only marked in Question 2. It is very in-depth, with much knowledge of how to critically evaluate psychological theories and the empirical evidence that supports them shown. This will indicate to the examiner the candidate possesses a good level of knowledge about the psychology of the courtroom and how our Justice System works. The answer lacks the balance a top answer requires and shows a very one-sided knowledge of primacy and recency effects. If the candidate incorporated the other side of the argument, their mark would improve exponentially, as everything they say up to this point is top notch quality.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication poses no cause for concern with regard to spelling, punctuation and.or grammar use overall. The incorporation psychology-related terminology is good and each is used appropriately and accurately.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 15/09/2012

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