The effect of acknowledging mock jurors' feelings on affective and cognitive biases: it depends on the sample

Behav Sci Law. May-Jun 2011;29(3):331-57. doi: 10.1002/bsl.990.


An intervention designed to correct affective and cognitive biases was tested in the context of a civil commitment hearing of a sexually violent predator. Potential differences between a college student mock jury sample and a more representative, juror venire sample in reaction to these bias correction interventions were explored. In the first of two experiments, undergraduate mock jurors (n = 130) demonstrated a leniency effect when the sex offender's attorney acknowledged jurors' emotional reactions and motivated them to thoughtfully weigh the evidence. The second experiment failed to replicate these findings with a more ecologically valid sample (n = 300). Several differences between samples were found: representative jurors, as opposed to undergraduates, were sensitive to differences between pure clinical and actuarial expert testimony; and measures of intrinsic cognitive effort predicted verdicts for undergraduates, but not for representative jurors. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions*
  • Expert Testimony / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Students