When recounting traumatic events, victims often cry, although not always in the courtroom. In the courtroom, some victims are stoic while others are emotional. The 'emotional witness effect' is a phenomenon in which listeners are affected by the emotional manner in which an alleged victim recounts what happened to them. For example, distressed female rape complainants (i.e., those crying or sobbing) are perceived by psychologists, police officers, judges and students to be more credible than controlled or neutral rape complainants (Nitschke et al., 2019). Do jurors similarly find alleged rape victims who cry to be more credible? do jurors respond
When testifying, witnesses can sound sad, angry, fearful, disgusted, happy or neutral, and exhibited emotions affect jurors' judgments of witness trustworthiness. Emotions affect acoustic properties of voices (e.g., pitch, breathiness, hoarseness, resonance, speech rate, etc.). Researchers find that speakers exhibiting varying acoustic properties to be differentially trustworthy. Voices also carry stereotypical information about a speaker's race and gender, both of which also can impact perceptions of trustworthiness even when no visual cues are available. Forde-Smith and Feinberg (2023) investigated the credibility of witnesses of different races and genders when conveying a variety of emotions. The researchers had 548 mock jurors
How do jurors apportion responsibility for harm in cases with multiple negligent actors? | Online Jury Research Update
Under the doctrines of contributory negligence and comparative negligence, the trier-of-fact -- most often a jury -- is responsible for apportioning responsibility for harm between multiple negligent actors. Votruba (2019) explored how jurors approach complex negligent tort cases in which responsibility can be attributed to multiple negligent actors, including a negligent plaintiff. Over 200 mock jurors read a vignette about a car accident that was constructed to allow attributions of responsibility for the accident to multiple causes including bad luck, road and weather conditions, the defendant and/or the plaintiff. Jurors read that....
Which jurors are most and least likely to harbor implicit racial bias? | Online Jury Research Update
While racial biases are often an uncomfortable topic to discuss in voir dire, jurors at least know whether they harbor explicit racial biases. By contrast, implicit racial biases lie outside of conscious awareness and so jurors often explicitly deny or reject in voir dire that they are racially biased when they nevertheless are influenced by implicit racial biases. Social science research has begun to identify those individuals who are more likely and those who are less likely to harbor implicit racial biases. Much of this research has focused on implicit racial bias against Blacks. Greenwald and Krieger explored how various
Do trial court judges exhibit less gender bias than jurors when making decisions? | Online Jury Research Update
Gender is at the heart of many legal cases, including employment cases alleging gender discrimination and family law custody disputes between a mother and father. Unlike most jurors, trial court judges have substantial subject-matter and decision-making expertise to serve as a buffer against decisions reflecting their personal gender ideologies (e.g., traditional, non-traditional). Are trial court judge decisions less likely to exhibit gender bias than decisions of jurors? Miller (2019) compared the decision-making of 619 trial court judges in a state (69% of all trial court judges in the state) to 500 members of the public of jury-eligible age. Both groups
n the interests of cost and trial efficiency, criminal defendants accused of involvement in the same crime, conspiracy or transaction can be tried together rather than separately. The bar for serverance is high and defendants are frequently tried together. Wilford and colleagues (2018) tested whether trying two defendants together increased conviction rates using separate mock juror samples, one of which involved jury-eligible community members who watched a video of a murder trial -- adapted from an actual criminal case and filmed in a moot courtroom -- that included openings, closings, both prosecution and defense witness testimony, and judicial instructions that
Criminal defendants profering an alibi defense rely almost exclusively on person evidence (e.g., family and friends) to support their alibi, and are often unable to provide physical evidence as a form of support... Typically, alibis provided by close friends and family are less believable than alibis provided by strangers... The issue remains as to whether a motivated alibi witness such as a family member, even though less believable than other alibi witnesses, is worth proferring at trial... Eastwood and colleagues (2020) examined the effects of the relationship between a suspect and an alibi witness in two studies....
Attorneys use a variety of communication modalities to present expert testimony to jurors and judges, including telephonic, recorded, video-conferenced, in-person (in-court) and transcribed. Trow Jones (2023) examined the influence of in-person, telephonic and video-conferenced testimony modalities on jurors' judgments of an expert's credibility and the weight jurors assign to an expert's testimony when reaching verdicts....
One of jurors' most common tasks in a trial is to assess witness truthfulness... While everyday deception detection is poor, jurors might be especially well-placed to assess the truth of witness accounts... Does the adversarial nature of a trial ... allow jurors to be better at judging witness veracity?... Chalmers and colleagues (2022) conducted an extensive and comprehensive investigation into how jurors assess witness veracity. Chalmers and colleagues' research involved two trial reconstructions -- of a non-sexual assault and a rape case -- scripted with input from legal practitioners, performed by actors, and professionally filmed and edited. A total of
People are "contract formalists" (a) putting excessive weight on contracts' written terms (as compared to oral agreements), (b) believing that contracts are formed primarily through formalities such as signature and payment (even though contract law does not require such formalities), and (c) believing that a signed agreement obligates parties to abide by its terms (even when the agreement's terms go unread, the contract is unreasonably lengthy, or the terms are one-sided or unfair) (Wilkinson-Ryan, 2014; Wilkinson-Ryan and Hoffman, 2015). Said differently, people hold signees to a written contract's terms, even when the terms are buried in the fine print of