Date of Degree

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Harold Goldstein

Committee Members

Kristin Sommer

Charles Scherbaum

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

Despite the proliferation of the trial consulting industry in recent years, we know virtually nothing about the impact that the use of a trial consultant may have on a jury. This laboratory study seeks to fill some of the gaps in the trial consulting literature by using the principles of procedural justice to explore what, if any, impact the use of a trial consultant can have on the outcome of a criminal jury trial, as well as the possibility that perceptions of fairness mediate the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and juror verdicts in cases where the evidence is ambiguous. Two hundred fifty-five jury-eligible individuals recruited from the participant pool of the psychology and management departments at Baruch College were asked to complete three questionnaires following the random assignment to a case summary that had been manipulated with respect to evidence strength (SOE) and use of a trial consultant. Hypotheses predicted that (a) a trial would be perceived as being higher in neutrality and global fairness if both the prosecution and defense used a trial consultant than if only one party used a trial consultant, (b) the likelihood of conviction would be highest when the evidence favored the prosecution, moderate when the evidence was ambiguous, and lowest when the evidence favored the defense, (c) the likelihood of conviction would be impacted by an interaction between SOE and balance of trial consultants such that when the evidence is ambiguous and both sides use a trial consultant, the likelihood of conviction would be higher than when the prosecution alone used a trial consultant but lower than when the defendant alone used a trial consultant, and (d) the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and likelihood of conviction would be mediated by perceptions of neutrality and global fairness when the evidence was ambiguous. Results supported the hypothesized relationship between SOE and likelihood of conviction, but there was only weak to moderate support for the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and perceptions of fairness. No significant interaction or mediation was found among the variables. Implications for the fields of procedural justice and trial consulting are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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