Psychology and Law: An Empirical Perspective

By Neil Brewer; Kipling D. Williams | Go to book overview
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Simulation, Realism,
and the Study of the Jury



Over 20 years ago, rather early in the modern era of psycholegal scholarship (Ogloff, 2000), we published two articles (Bray & Kerr, 1979, 1982) that considered the utility of experimental simulations for the study of jury behavior. These articles represented our response to a growing drumbeat of criticism of such jury simulation research. The major themes of this criticism were (1) that typical jury simulations were highly artificial, (2) that the nature of these artificialities called into serious question the ecological validity of such studies, (3) that field research on juries was likely to be much more informative and ecologically valid than simulation research, and (4) that if experimental jury simulations were to be employed at all, they must achieve a much higher level of verisimilitude. (Similar criticisms can be, and were, raised in other areas of psycholegal research, such as eyewitness performance and child testimony.) Our view then was that although this criticism raised some valid concerns, those concerns were far too sweeping, had little theoretical or empirical foundation, failed to reflect a proper appreciation for the trade-offs inherent in any choice of method, and could, if widely influential, deprive the nascent field of psycholegal studies of one of its most powerful methodological tools.

Now, over two decades later, these same methodological issues are still being discussed and debated (e.g., Bornstein, 1999; Diamond, 1997)—which is, no doubt, why the editors of this volume invited us to prepare the present chapter that attempts both to reiterate many of our original arguments1 for a new generation of scholars and, when appropriate, to update them by incorporating relevant research and commentary from the past two decades. Our


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Psychology and Law: An Empirical Perspective


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