Victim consequences, sentence severity, and decision processes in mock juries.

Davis, J. H., Kerr, N. L., Stasser, G., Meek, D., & Holt, R. (1977). Victim consequences, sentence severity, and decision processes in mock juries. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 18, 346-365.

No impact of victim consequence or sentence severity on verdicts (no jury convicted). Juries exposed to incongruent scenarios regarding victim suffering and sentence length took longest to deliberate. “2/3 majority otherwise not guilty.” SDS supported.

Six-person juries and parallel individuals watched a mock trial (prerecorded on video tape) under conditions where the victim of an alleged rape had purportedly suffered either mild or severe consequences, and the defendant could receive either a moderate or harsh sentence if convicted. The primary finding was that a version of a majority (2/3) social decision scheme model accurately predicted verdict distributions similar to previous research (Davis, Kerr, Atkin, Holt & Meek, 1975) that had used a case more heavily slanted than the present one toward not guilty. However, the particular version (subscheme for addressing nonmajorities) differed from earlier findings. Neither victim consequences nor sentence severity significantly influenced the over-all proportion of guilty verdicts, but interacted to significantly influence mean deliberation time. When victim consequences and potential sentence did not “fit”, longer average deliberation times resulted.

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