Defendant characteristics & jury decision making

Defendant characteristics
jury decision making
Learning objectives
• Explore how psychology investigates
jury decision making.
• Investigate how defendant
characteristics affect jury decision
• At the side of each
photo, using a scale of 15 (1 being not at all &
5 being very), write
down how sociable,
intelligent, trustworthy
and competent you think
they are.
• How did you make your
How defendant characteristics affect
jury decision making
• There are many ways of studying crime in criminological
• This study is about how juries make decisions about a
• It is unlikely that you have ever seen inside a courtroom.
• Most of us believe that it is where justice takes place.
However psychologists have looked at how juries make
their decisions and believe that it might not be as fair as
we think.
• We often see attractive people as friendly and
• Are juries equally inclined to rush to the same decision
when they see an attractive person accused of a crime?
Write down the key definitions of the
following: (pg. 196 in your text book)
What happens in a courtroom?
• Serious criminal
offences are dealt
with in a court of law
with a judge and a
• The jury is a group
of 12 people who
have been randomly
selected from the
local area.
What happens in a courtroom?
• During the trial the jury listens
to all evidence and testimony
presented by the defence and
the prosecution.
• The jurors then talk to each
other in private before making a
• If the jury comes to a guilty
verdict, the judge then decides
on a sentence.
• However sometimes innocent
people are sent to prison or
guilty people are released.
Can juries make mistakes?
Why do you think that juries can
make mistakes? Write down your
answers in your book.
Defendant characteristics
• How a defendant looks, acts or sounds affect
how they are viewed by a jury.
• When we meet someone new we often base
our decision of them on a few features that
are stereotypical.
• What do you think our stereotypical view
might be of this person?
Who would you convict?
• Look at the 2 pictures below. Who would
you convict for a crime of robbery?
• How did you come to your decision?
• What defendant characteristic do you think this is?
How do you think that race can affect jury decision
• There is a higher proportion of ethnic minorities in prison
(15%) compared to 8% of the UK general population.
• We have a stereotypical view that black men are more
likely to commit a crime.
• Studies have found that that white jurors are more likely
to find a black defendant guilty compared to a white one.
• Black defendants also receive harsher sentences than a
white defendant for the same crime.
• Write down what Skolnick & Shaw (1977) concluded from
their study.
Who committed a crime?
Look at the photos below.
• Which of these men do you think committed murder?
• How did you come to your decision?
• What defendant characteristic do you think this is?
David Russell Williams
Pride of the Canadian Forces Williams
was convicted of assault and murder on
many women. Through it all he kept
written and photographic records.
Michael Graham
Spent 14 years on death row in Louisiana
for a crime he did not commit. Graham
was convicted of murder in 1987. After
14 years of wrongful imprisonment, the
state of Louisiana gave Graham a $10
check and an overcoat that was five
sizes too big. By the time of his release,
Graham had spent half of his adult life
on death row.
How do you think attractiveness can
affect jury decision making?
• Attractive people are seen as more
intelligent, friendly and honest.
• We are less likely to judge an attractive
person guilty of a crime.
Who would you convict?
Listen to the 2 different accents. Who
would you convict for a crime of robbery?
• How did you come to your decision?
• What defendant characteristic do you think
this is?
• People with a ‘rough’ or strong regional
accent are often found ‘guilty’ of robbery
as they are seen as needing more money
than a posh defendant.
• Mahoney & Dixon (2002) found that
‘Brummies’ were more likely to be found
guilty of armed robbery than cheque fraud
compared to a defendant with a posh
Michaela is a jury member. She is
watching a burglary case. When talking to
other jury members she discovers that
some of them are basing their decision on
the evidence presented in court. Explain
Michaela’s experience of the jury
Investigation task
Complete the
investigation sheet of
Sigall and Ostroves
(1975) study on
attractiveness and jurydecision making
Remember to achieve
at least a C grade you
must include a
conclusion as well as
strengths & weaknesses