The emergence of extralegal bias during jury deliberations.

MacCoun, R. J. (1990). The emergence of extralegal bias during jury deliberations. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, 303-314.

Does deliberation attenuate extralegal biases in jury verdicts, or does it exaggerate them? Consistent with an information-integration theory analysis, Kaplan and Miller in 1978 found that deliberation can eliminate such biases. However, in the present study, the physical attractiveness of a criminal defendant only influenced postdeliberation mock juror and jury judgments. When the defendant was attractive, there was a shift in judgments toward acquittal, but when the defendant was unattractive, there was no such shift. As a result, mock juries were more likely to acquit the attractive defendant than the unattractive defendant. Because a shift toward acquittal is the modal pattern during deliberation in close criminal cases, the results suggest that the unattractive defendant did not receive the benefit of the doubt that is usually granted to criminal defendants. The results of this and other studies are discussed in terms of social influence patterns in jury deliberation. Attractive defendants much more likely to be acquitted; no impact of victim attractiveness on verdicts. General leniency shift during deliberation; stronger for attractive defendants.

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