Juror Psychology–Can juries ignore inadmissible evidence or pretrial publicity?

Answer: prob­a­bly not. Superb chap­ter by Lieberman, Arndt, & Vess: “Inadmissible evi­dence and pre­trial pub­lic­ity: The effects (and inef­fec­tive­ness) of admo­ni­tions to dis­re­gard.” You “can­not unring the bell” as one judge put it. The last 30 years of social cog­ni­tive psy­chol­ogy, start­ing with the work of Tversky and Kahneman, up to the most recent work on the social cog­ni­tive psy­chol­ogy (Gilovich, Griffin, & Kahneman, 2002), throws light of the nature (and lim­its) of human decision-making. Unfortunately, nei­ther are peo­ple able to report the ways in which their think­ing may be biased (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). Even hypo­thet­i­cal ques­tions trig­ger cog­ni­tive processes that threaten impar­tial­ity: back fire effects (“don’t think white bear!”), belief per­se­ver­ance, psy­cho­log­i­cal reac­tance (“don’t tell me what to think!”), and ironic processes of men­tal con­trol (“don’t think white bear!”).

Source: Lieberman, J., & Krauss (2009). Jury Psychology: Social Aspects of Trial Processes. Vol. 1: Psychology in the Courtroom. Ashgate.

Wilson, T.D., & Brekke, N. (1994). Mental con­t­a­m­i­na­tion and men­tal cor­rec­tion: Unwanted influ­ences on judg­ments and eval­u­a­tions. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 1, 117–142.

Nisbett, R., & Wilson, T.D. (1977). Telling me than we can know: Verbal reports on men­tal processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.

Fitzsimons, G., & Shiv, B (2001). Nonconscious and con­t­a­m­i­na­tive effects of hypo­thet­i­cal ques­tions on sub­se­quent deci­sion mak­ing. Journal of Consumer Research, 28, 224–238.

Gilovich, T., Griffin, D., & Kahneman (2002). Heuristics and biases: The psy­chol­ogy of intu­itive judg­ment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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