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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