Jury deliberations: Discussion content and influence processes in jury decision making.

Tanford, S., & Penrod, S. (1986). Jury deliberations: Discussion content and influence processes in jury decision making. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 322-347.

The present research investigated the jury deliberation process. Representative juror subjects viewed a realistic videotaped trial consisting of three offenses, deliberated in groups of six and reached verdicts on each charge, and completed a post-deliberation questionnaire that assessed individual cognitions. Deliberations were videotaped and content-analyzed. The results indicated that the initial vote distribution was a good predictor of the final verdict; majorities tended to prevail. Deliberation content was concentrated primarily in two areas: (a) the facts of the case and (b) statements of preference for guilty or not guilty verdicts. Path analyses suggested that decisions on the first charge were based jointly on the content of deliberations and on the group vote distribution, whereas decisions on later charges were based largely on normative pressures. Jurors’ post-deliberation impressions of the trial were affected by whether or not they had changed votes during deliberations. Evidence of strong majority effect coupled with leniency bias. For 1st charge considered, juror postdeliberation verdicts predicted by predeliberation preference, jury-level preference distribution, and 8 deliberation content codes (partial mediation). For latter 2 charges, juror postdeliberation verdicts primarily a function of initial jury-level preference distribution and final votes on previous charges. Deliberation tended to focus on case facts and verdict preferences, and more time spent on 1st charge compared with last 2 charges.