The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of pretrial publicity (PTP) on mock juror decision making. Specifically, we examined the influence of quantity and slant of the PTP (pro-prosecution vs. pro-defense), the persistence of PTP effects over time, and whether the PTP effects demonstrated in research laboratories would also occur in more naturalistic settings (generalizability). Using a shadow jury paradigm we examined these effects using a real trial as stimulus. Mock jurors included 115 jury-eligible community members who were naturally exposed to PTP in the venue in which the actual case occurred and 156 who were experimentally exposed. We found mock jurors were significantly influenced by both the slant and quantity of the PTP to which they were exposed, such that those exposed to pro-prosecution or pro-defense PTP tended to render decision in support of the party favored in the PTP, and those exposed to greater quantities of PTP tended to be more biased. Additionally, PTP effects persisted throughout the course of the trial and continued to influence judgments in face of trial evidence and arguments. A finding of no significant difference in the effect of exposure slant between the naturally exposed and experimentally exposed samples provides support for the external validity of laboratory studies examining PTP effects. This research helps address some of the concerns raised by courts with regard to the durability of PTP effects and the application of laboratory findings to real world settings.
- pretrial publicity,
- shadow jury,
- decision making,
- external validity
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/tdk/1/