Authoritarianism and decisions of mock juries: Evidence of jury bias and group polarization.

Bray, R. M., & Noble, A. M. (1978). Authoritarianism and decisions of mock juries: Evidence of jury bias and group polarization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 1424-1430.

A mock-jury experiment investigated the effects of authoritarianism on juror and jury decisions and examined the generalizability of the group polarization hypothesis for a simulated jury task. 132 high- and 125 low authoritarians (as assessed by the California F Scale) listened to a murder trial and then made judgments about guilt and punishment as individuals, in 6 person juries, and again after deliberations as individuals. As predicted, both high-authoritarian jurors and juries reached guilty verdicts more frequently and imposed more severe punishment than low authoritarians. Further, high authoritarians showed more prediscussionā€“postdiscussion verdict changes than low authoritarians. Results also support the polarization hypothesis in a jury paradigm. Deliberations produced a shift toward greater severity of punishment for high authoritarians but toward increased leniency for low authoritarians. Guilt verdicts shifted toward acquittal for all jurors. Juries composed entirely of high-authoritarian jurors convicted 35% more and recommended sentences 2 x longer on average than low-authoritarian juries.

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