Although trial judges admonish jurors to avoid being influenced by personal biases, social psychological theories suggest that stereotypes can influence jurors' case judgments. Further, such effects might be stronger or weaker after jury deliberation. In the current study, we examined the effect of stereotypes on pre- and postdeliberation case judgments in a mock trial. Jurors' stereotypes of juvenile offenders ("Wayward Youth" and "Superpredator") were measured and, in some conditions, activated by attorneys' arguments. Jurors provided pre- and postdeliberation case judgments. Results indicated that the more jurors held preexisting Superpredator stereotypes about juvenile offenders, the more likely they were to find the defendant guilty and the less likely they were to believe the defendant should have been tried in juvenile court. There was some evidence that the effects of preexisting biases were minimized after jury deliberation. We also found that jurors' juvenile offender stereotypes could be activated experimentally within the context of the trial. Compared to jurors in a control condition, jurors with an activated Superpredator stereotype were more likely to find the defendant guilty; jurors with an activated Wayward Youth stereotype were less likely to believe that the defendant should have been waived to criminal court. There was some evidence that experimentally activated biases were maximized after jury deliberation. We discuss theoretical explanations for why group deliberation might minimize the effect of jurors' preexisting stereotypes, but maximize the effect of stereotypes experimentally activated during trial.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science