An Attributional Analysis of Jurors' Judgements in a Criminal Case: A Preliminary Investigation

By Pope, Jacqueline; Meyer, Robert | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

An Attributional Analysis of Jurors' Judgements in a Criminal Case: A Preliminary Investigation


Pope, Jacqueline, Meyer, Robert, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


A study was conducted to determine the extent to which attributional complexity influences juror decision-making. Using Fletcher's (1986) attributional complexity scale, mock jurors (N=186). who were shown a videotape of a simulated armed robbery, then rendered individual judgments on the case. The results showed that attributionally-simple subjects found the defendant guilty more often both before and after presentation of the evidence, reported more confidence in their final decision, and attributed more personal causes to the defendant's behavior. Attributionally-complex subjects, while not excluding the role of internal causes, were more likely to consider external causes as possible influences on the defendant's behavior. The findings demonstrate the existence of clear individual differences in attributional style and the potential importance of this variable for jury selection.

The jury trial is an institution which draws ordinary citizens into the decisionmaking process of the legal system. Citizens who serve in the jury process are all placed in an unusual situation when attempting to understand the trial process. They must determine how, as well as why, a particular event occurred - and then base their judgment upon the information received.

Recently, the focus has been on individual differences between jurors - and how these differences affect juror decision-making (Graziano, Panter, & Tanaka, 1990; Pennington & Hastie, 1990). In fact, as Ellsworth (1993) points out, the inescapable conclusion from many research studies is that individual differences among jurors make a difference. Of course, most lawyers and researchers are interested in those individual differences which can be identified before the trial process. These include such factors as enduring personality traits, attitudes, past experiences, as well as individual differences in beliefs and knowledge about our social world and how it works.

Casper, Benedict, and Perry (1989) developed a causal model of juror decision-making, based upon information processing at an individual level. The model describes how personal attributes affect verdict choices based upon how each individual juror interprets the trial evidence presented to him/her. Using a sample of college students and individuals who had been called for jury duty, the authors found that cognitive processes and individual attitudes influenced the amount of award given in a civil case, based upon the interpretation of testimony.

Carroll, Perkowitz, Lurigio, and Weaver (1987) proposed a framework for organizing a number of individual difference variables which have been found to affect sentencing goals. The results supported a conservative ideology involving punishment, individual causation, and high authoritarianism scores. The authors also found support for a liberal ideology involving rehabilitation, belief in economic causes of crime, and the responsibility of one's government for all its people. As they point out, causal reasoning plays a central role in the translation of attitudes and beliefs into sentencing recommendations.

In a study using parole board members, Carroll (1978) found that recommendations for parole depended upon the stability of causal attributions regarding the offense committed. Recommendations for parole were much more favorable for cases given unstable, causal attributions. In addition, parole board members' individual differences also played a part in the decision-making process.

Studies using the attribution paradigm have reported that subjects are insensitive to situational explanations, and show a strong preference for dispositional explanations for others' behavior (Coates & Penrod, 1981; Fletcher, Grigg & Bull, 1988; Miller & Rorer, 1982; Tetlock, 1985). The present study considers the possibility that, instead of assuming that individuals are lazy processors of social information and quick to rely on heuristic explanations, one should consider that they may possess a particular attributional style which predisposes them to certain explanations for social behavior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Attributional Analysis of Jurors' Judgements in a Criminal Case: A Preliminary Investigation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.