Psychologists role in the jury selection process. Find five experimental studies on psychologists’ role in the jury selection process from the PsychInfo Database (You could just use google).
Be sure the study is an experimental design. Summarize each article by answering the following questions. Be sure to write your response under each question.
1. What is the purpose of the study?
2. Who were the participants?
3. What were the participants asked to do?
4. What did the researchers find?
5. What were the limitations of the study?
6. What were the recommendations for future research?
The study of forensic psychology involves the application of clinical specialties, research and experimentation in psychology to the legal arena. (1).
One of the most observable and public intersections of law and psychology is in jury selection and jury consulting. Lawyers hire private jury consulting firms to help them examine potential jurors for trials in both criminal and civil matters. Jury consultants are usually psychologists and sociologists who specialize in interviewing, examining and analyzing potential jurors to determine how a jury is likely to react to parties and their claims.
The psychological examination of a jury pool, a process called voir dire, is often done by the lawyers and judge in most cases. In some cases, jury consultants are hired by lawyers in high profile or complex litigation. The basic purpose of voir dire is to determine if any particular potential juror has biases which may prejudice his or her decisions as a juror. The questions for the jurors are designed to reveal if a juror would be fair and impartial. The jurors may be personally interviewed or they may be asked to complete juror questionnaires which are analyzed by psychologists (jury consultants) who assign ratings to inform the lawyers on which potential jurors are likely to be fair and which are not. The questions can examine a juror’s potential racial or religious bias, personal experiences, socio-economic status, personal history and outlook and many other factors.
In both civil and criminal cases, attorneys on both sides of the docket probe prospective jurors. Will that juror be more likely to align with one side of the case? Are they bias, prejudice, emotional, religious, liberal or conservative? Even body language and television viewing habits of jurors translates into more data to be factored in the jury selection process to weed out the ‘wrong’ type of juror.
According to the American Bar Association lawyers and jury consultants now have a digital treasure trove of private information about any potential juror because 74 percent of all Americans have social networking profiles and Twitter processes over half a billion tweets per day (2). Social networking sites like Facebook have become a part of jury selection in the digital age. Lawyers can learn almost anything about jurors including their taste in movies, music, politics, education, hobbies and likes and dislikes. This type of digital inquiry has not been prohibited by law as of the date of this writing. However, the in depth digital investigation of potential jurors may eventually be prohibited as an invasion of privacy. For now, all potential jurors can be subjected to digital investigations.
A study investigating the biases of juries in criminal cases concluded that the attractiveness of a defendant can play a role in jury decisions on convictions and sentence recommendations. In this study (3), the jurors who participated were divided into two categories. Those who process information through their emotional filters and personal experiences and those who process information through objective and rational-based filters. The jurors who emotionally processed information were found to give lighter sentences to physically attractive defendants and harsher sentences and convictions to unattractive defendants. The study supports the conclusion that among the research participants, juror bias against unattractive defendants resulted in harsher conviction and sentencing outcomes.