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Influences on Individual Juror Decision-Making

Autor:   •  July 27, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,250 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,711 Views

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The influences on juror decision-making is a widely researched field as social-

scientists seek to find answers to why jurors make the decisions they do. This paper

focuses on the scenario of Michael, a paediatric doctor, charged with the assault of

Darren, unemployed and relying on welfare. The individual juror biases that are

explored are experiential (emotional) versus rational processing (the cognitive

experiential-self theory), and how it can effect juror’s decision making through

narrative delivery, physical and social attractiveness. Attitude and personality traits of

belief in a just world and authoritarianism will also be explored as well as the role of

the media in creating bias.

Lieberman (2002) suggests that the ways in which a juror processes

information may influence their decision-making. The cognitive experiential self-

theory suggests that individuals have two ways of processing information: 1) an

experiential mode, which relies on heuristic cues (cognitive shortcuts) and is an

intuitive, affect-driven system, or, 2) a rational mode, which is conscious, logic-driven

and emotion-free (Epstein, 1994). According to Epstein (1994), the more emotional a

person is feeling, the more they tend to think in a categorical and personal manner,

reverting to stereotypes and schemas - quite different to when they are in a rational

thinking mode, relying less on short-cuts, and more on factual evidence. It is

suggested that this is because individuals instinctively operate on a “gut-level” which

involves very little effort, whereas rational thinking is a learned process and requires a

conscious effort; individuals default to the easy option. Denes-Raj and Epstein (1994)

state that the demands of a situation will determine whether the experiential or

rational mode is used.

Lieberman (2002) believes that the cognitive experiential self-theory may

explain how juror decision-making comes to be influenced by certain factors. It can be of benefit to the defendant and the juror at varying times for the attorney to elicit



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