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What Effects Does Social Pressure Have On Jury Decisions?

833 words - 4 pages

Societies widespread use of groups could be taken as evidence that in general better decisions might emerge from groups than from individuals acting on their own. In England, juries deliberate in secret and are accountable to no one, so sometimes the verdicts seem irrational.Kalven & Zeisel (1966) defined the liberation hypothesis. This is the theory that all jurors have already made up their decision before they go into deliberation. They then listen to each others verdicts but try to convert them to their way of thinking. This kind of social pressure may lead to bias and poorly considered decisions.Sherif's research found that when people are in a group they look to each other for the ...view middle of the document...

This is when minority views are repressed so that no conflict arises.However, Moscovici (1976) found that small groups and individuals can effect the majority vote, although this is usually when there is a longer time of deliberation. A minority has a better chance of influencing a group if:R They are committed and consistent to what they are sayingR Acting on principleR They aren't being unreasonablePennington & Hastie (1990) found that juror members make a decision by creating a hypothetical reconstructed story to explain the evidence and match it to the verdict. Each persons reconstructed story would be different because we base them on personal experiences, personality and attitudes. What also effects these reconstructions is how early on in the trial they are produced and which pieces of information and evidence they have selected.One of the first things that a jury is asked to do is to elect a foreperson. These generally tend to be white, middle class, men with authoritive personalities who jump in with the first comment. This can lead to a higherarchy developing in the group, and members may look to the foreperson as an authority figure and base their verdict on what he/she says. By not taking responsibility for their own decision, they are acting in an agentic state. This leads to social loafing, which is when some...

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