Wednesday, 13 May 2015

REACHING A VERDICT - Reaching a verdict: How do jury members influence other jury members verdict?

Hastie et al – Jury decision making goes through 3 stages:

Group decision model:

Orientation period – relaxed and open discussion, agendas set, questions raised and different opinions are identified.

Open confrontation – fierce debate, focus of detail and exploration of different interpretations.

Reconciliation – attempts made to smooth over conflicts.

Hastie applied social psychological research on group decision making to courtroom behaviour.

At the end of a trial the jury return to the courtroom to give their verdict. How do they reach that verdict? The problem for researchers is that juries are sworn to secrecy about their deliberations, which take place behind closed doors, even after the trial, they are prohibited by law from discussing it. This means that researchers have to rely on mock trials and reconstructions to investigate jury behaviour. For the reasons mentioned earlier, it is a problem to apply this model and therefore it can only be assumed that these processes apply.

Asch - Majority influence:

Aim: The aim of this study was to find out how people would behave when given an unambiguous/simple task. Would they be influenced by the behaviour of others, or would they stick firmly to what they knew to be right? How much conformity (e.g. copy what the majority of people do) to majority influence would there be?

In total, 123 American male undergraduates were tested.

Asch showed a series of lines (the ‘standard’ line and the possible answers) to participants seated around a table. 

This happened in groups of 7-9 participants but only one was a real participant. The others were confederates/stooges of the researcher. 
The confederates were told to give the same incorrect answer on 12 critical trials.
In total there were 18 trials with each participant: In the first two trials- confederates answered correctly, in 12 critical trials the confederates gave wrong answers and in the last 4 confederates gave correct answers.

Watch this youtube clip to help you gauge and idea of what the task looked like:

Overall, there was a 32% conformity rate. In other words, participants agreed with the wrong answer on about a third of the critical trials. 

But there were important individual differences. For example, no one conformed on all the critical trials, and about 25% didn't conform even once. 

About 75% conformed at least once. Participants appeared to be experiencing a lot of stress through the experiment (e.g. nervous laughter, fidgeting)

Asch interviewed some of his participants and found that they tended to give one of three reasons: 
•Distortion of perception- they really did think their wrong answers were right.
•Distortion of judgement- they felt doubt about the accuracy of their judgement and therefore went along with the majority view.
•Distortion of action- they didn't want to be ridiculed and therefore went along with the group.

Nemeth and Wachtler: Minority influence - 

Aim: To investigate the influence of perceived autonomy (choosing where to sit at a table) and consistency on minority influence.

Method: A lab experiment as a mock trial 

Participants: Groups of 5 participants (one is a stooge/confederate) drawn from an adult sample of students. 

Procedure: The jury of five had to deliberate on the amount of compensation due for a victim of an injury. 

After hearing the facts, everyone makes an individual verdict and is then taken to another room where there is a rectangular table with 2 seats at either of the long sides of the table and one at the head of the table. In one condition, the groups of participants are given a choice of where to sit, but the stooge always sits at the head of the table. In the other condition, participants are told where to sit, including the stooge. They then deliberate on the case, During the discussion, the stooge adopts a decision that disagrees with the majority, suggesting a figure of compensation of $3,000 instead of what the group suggested $10,000-$25,000.

The stooge influences the amount of compensation that was originally agreed in the condition where he is perceived to have chosen his own seat. However, when seated by the experimenter, he had little influence. Moreover, when the stooge had been influential, this effect continued into the second case. It is apparent that when the stooge sits himself at the head of the table, he appears more confident, therefore peoples decisions are more swayed by him. 

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