Social Psychology in Court      

How reliable is eyewitness testimony?    

   Ψ  How Persuasive is Eyewitness Testimony? 
    •  Who do the Jurors Believe? They believe an eyewitness.    
    Ψ  How Accurate are Eyewitnesses? 
    •  not !    
    Ψ  The Misinformation Effect 
    •  Witnessing an event, receiving misinformation about it, & then incorporating the “misinformation” into one’s memory of the event can occur.   
    Ψ  Retelling 
    •  The more times a person retells a story the more they convince themselves that it happened, even if it did not.     
    Ψ  Reducing Error 
    •  Train Police Interviewers 
     •  Minimize False Lineup Identifications 
      •  Educate Jurors
What other factors influence juror judgments?    

Ψ  The Defendant’s Characteristics 
    •  Physical Attractiveness - When the evidence is meager or ambiguous looks count. 
    •  Similarity to Jurors - we are more sympathetic toward defendants thet we 
        can identify with.    
Ψ  The Judge’s Instructions 
    •  doesn't erase the effect of inadmissible testimony after the fact. 
    •  may create reactance (a resistance to disregard inadmissible testimony). 
    •  are often ineffective in negating the effect of pretrial publicity.     
Ψ  Additional Factors 
    •  Characteristics of the victim. 
    •  The severity of the potential sentence may change conviction rate.
What influences the individual juror?
   Ψ  Juror comprehension - jurors are best persuaded when attorneys present evidence in a narrative fashion. 
    •  Understanding Instructions - There is inaccurate understanding of instructions & of legal jargon. 
    •  Understanding Statistical Information - it appears that statistical numbers convince jurors only when the numbers are supported by 
       a convincing story. 
    •  Increasing Jurors’ Understanding - provide transcripts & use simpler language for legal instructions. 

    Ψ  Jury selection - jury selection consultants are substantially less important than the evidence. 
    Ψ  “Death-Qualified” Jurors - In capital cases, juries decide the sentence as well as determine guilt or innocence. As a result, the jury selection 
process includes a unique procedure, "death qualification," that is designed to ensure that the jury is qualified for the sentence phase. Most jurors 
who are strongly opposed to the death penalty, & some who are strongly in favor, are excluded at the outset. Many studies have shown that these 
exclusions make the jury more likely to convict.

How do group influences affect juries?    

Ψ  Minority Influence - The minority is most persuasive when they are consistent, persistent, & self confident; especially if they can cause 
some deflections from the majority.    

Ψ  Group Polarization - as a jury deliberates, opposing views may become more entrenched & polarized.    

Ψ  Leniency - when evidence is not overwhelming deliberation may make jurors more lenient.    

Ψ  Are 12 Heads Better than 1? Yes!    Ψ  Are 6 Heads as Good as 12? No!    

Ψ  From Lab to life - Simulated juries are NOT real juries. Caution advised!                                                                   

                                                                      Social Psychology
                                                                        Robert C. Gates
 "It's surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by
their feelings toward themselves, and if you're not comfortable within yourself, you can't be comfortable with others." - Sydney J. Harris