Monday, April 28, 2014

Jurors Hear Evidence and Turn It Into Stories

Found in the NY Times, Jurors Hear Evidence and Turn It Into Stories is an article that provides interesting information about how jurors used to create stories in their heads about what happened in a case, based on how the information is presented. This was because before the cooperation of judges, jurors weren’t able to ask questions or take notes to allow them to understand all the information given during the trial.  They would have to piece together information, which is how the stories were created.  By creating a study of a realistically acted out case, Dr. Pennington and Dr. Hastie tested how the stories created by the juries were important in their decision.  The difference in class within the jury effected how they imagined what had happened and who they sided with.  In another study by Dr. Hans, it found that people tried to explain a case in their head by figuring out how the victim could not have been a victim (what they could have done to avoid it).  It finally discusses the scientific selection of the juries and how lawyers can eliminate jurors to favor what outcome they want. When thinking about this is terms of social psychology, the side the juror leans towards is determined by the story created through the evidence, which in term relates to the jurors life and how they perceive the situation.  The way they perceive the information is influenced by their stereotypes, etc. Stated in the article, “whites trust the honesty and fairness of the police far more than blacks”.  With all of these factors that can influence the jury, how do we create a better system that reducing them in order have a more fair ruling.  It has been started by allowing jurors to ask questions and take notes, and other recommendations have been provided, but I am not sure it will ever be truly fixed because the jurors’ background, environment, ingrained stereotypes, views, etc. will always have an influence in their view of what happened.

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