Gleason, J. M., & Harris, V. A. (1976). Group discussion and defendant’s socio-economic status as determinants of judgments by simulated jurors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 6, 186-191.
No impact of defendant socioeconomic status on postdeliberation verdicts. Deliberating jurors rated defendant less guilty; jurors supporting death penalty rated defendant more guilty than those opposed.
Seventy-two male subjects judged a defendant on trial for armed robbery, after reading trial transcripts and other background information. The 2 × 2 factorial design varied the defendant’s socioeconomic status (SES) and simulated juror’s decision making condition (either group discussion or independent decision-making). Higher SES (middle class) defendants were seen as less blameworthy than low SES defendants, though not less guilty. Defendants were judged less guilty when simulated jurors had engaged in group discussion than when they had not. Subjects’ potential similarity to the defendant, and their attitudes toward capital punishment, were also found related to these “legal” and “moral” decisions.