With jury bias we examined that the perspective taking, victim impact statements and race of the victim had no main effects with ps > 0.26 and no significant interactions either with ps > 0.64.
The race of the jury was divided into white and non-white participants. An ANOVA was then run with perspective taking, victim impact statements, and race of the victim as the between-participants factors to test against empathy felt for the defendant, for the victim, for the victim’s significant others.
White participants. We observed that there was a main effect with the race of the jury and the empathy felt by the jury for the victim. The empathy felt by the jury for the white ...view middle of the document...
102, SD =0.236) while it was much lower when the victim impact statements were of low emotionality (M=3.321, SD = 0.242)
Other Variables: Gender and Political Affiliation
Lastly, we examined the effects of the participant’s gender and political attitudes. Each factor was treated as a fourth independent variable in an ANOVA.
There were no main effects but a significant interaction was observed between the independent variables being jury gender, the race of the victim, perspective taking and victim impact statements and the dependent variable being the empathy for the defendant with F(1,107) = 6.879, p = 0.010. This demonstrates that the participant felt the highest empathy when the perspective taking was neutral, the victim impact statement had high emotionality, and the race of the victim was white and the jury’s gender female (M=3.571, SD = 0.655). Another significant interaction between the victim impact statement, the gender of the jury and the empathy for the victim was observed with F(1, 44) = 6.411, p = 0.015.
No significant two-way or three-way interactions between jury bias and the independent variables being political affiliation, the race of the victim, perspective taking and victim impact statements were observed with p > 0.06. No main effects were observed with political affiliation and the jury bias with p > 0.23.
The present research aimed to determine the effects of perspective taking with the defendant, the emotionality of victim impact statements and the race of the victim had on juror decisions. In the study, we observed that while perspective taking had no effect whatsoever on the jury decisions, race of the victim and victim impact statements significantly affected jury’s empathy.
Past research has shown that when participants think about the other person’s thoughts and/or feelings, they tend to feel more compassion and concern (Batson, Eklund, Chermok, Hoyt, & Ortiz, 2007; Batson, et al., 1997). The perspective-taking prime consistent with past research (Alexander & Paris, 2013) was imagine-other focused perspective taking (example: “I understand the defendant’s perspective”) but failed to influence the jury decision-making or empathy.
Possible area for future research could be imagine-self perspective taking. Past research has shown that when participants think about how they would personally feel in a situation, then they tend to feel more self-awareness, experience more personal distress, and may even have an increased sense of morality (Batson, et al., 1997; Batson, et al., 2003). Previous work has also shown that the two forms of perspective taking elicited different amount of personal distress (Batson, Early et al., 1997) and different types of cognitions (Davis et al., 2004), and evidence from neuroimaging studies provide further evidence of their distinguishableness in terms of neural activity (Jackson, Brunet, Melzoff & Decety, 2006).
Future research could consider a different formatting for...