Past researchers have identified models of individual juror decision making, and others have identified variables that influence the decision making processes of groups. However, to date, there is no unified model of jury decision making that accounts for both of these areas of research. This project will be the first to integrate research on group processes with research on the story model of jury decision making (the most widely accepted model of juror decision making) to begin the process of creating a comprehensive model of jury decision making. Mock jurors will view a re-enacted trial and then deliberate to a verdict. Deliberations will be coded for logistics, content, complexity, and whether juries create unified stories (and how many stories they discuss). After deliberation, jurors will individually answer several questions about the story they developed during trial and deliberation. The investigator will use these qualitative and quantitative measures to examine whether the story model translates to the group decision and why jurors change their decisions about evidence, witnesses, or verdict during deliberation.

This project will provide opportunities for students to participate in social science in an integration of teaching, training, learning, and research. In addition, results of this research will be disseminated broadly to outlets likely to reach scientists in order to further scientific research. It will also be disseminated to attorneys, judges, police officers, and community members to expand understanding of the jury decision making process as well as what can be done to improve the quality of the jury's decision. The results of this research will provide valuable information about the deliberation process, and will begin the development of a unified theory of jury decision making that integrates what we know about the individual juror's decision making process with the group decision making process.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Marjorie Zatz
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University of Florida
United States
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