chapter paper

Chapter Application Paper is due and write a 3-5 page paper which summarizes, synthesizes, and then applies the information from the Chapter to issues relevant to the topic.

Each paper must identify the premise and supporting points of the chapter, a synthesis of the information from the chapter, and a critical application of the premise(s) and supporting points from the chapter to an issue in psychology and the legal system. The paper should address:

Key points, patterns, and trends from the information in the chapter

  • How the chapter information applies to issues in psychology and the legal system
  • Analysis of the chapter information from a Christ-centered perspective?

The organization of your paper is very important. Please follow APA and make sure to use section headings in your paper. Make sure to include a cover page, a references page, and develop a well-formatted, grammatical correct paper.

Your paper must be a minimum of 3–5 pages, be well-organized, and be reflective of your thinking and struggles in these very complex areas of psychology and the legal system.


The jury process is the cornerstone of legal decision making in the United States and is one of the most studied areas in psychology and law. Researchers have developed several theories about how jurors make decisions. One theory, the mathematical model, suggests jurors use a type of mental meter and adjust their tendency to decide guilty or not guilty as they receive evidence.The story theory suggests jurors try to develop a story that helps them make sense of all the evidence. To form a story, jurors make inferences on the basis of their own experiences. How the information from different jurors’ stories becomes combined is yet to be understood. Fortunately, most research supports the notion that, ultimately, jurors make their decisions on the basis of the evidence provided, except when it is weak. When the evidence is unconvincing, according to the liberation hypothesis, jurors feel liberated from using it. Still, these theories only touch on possible explanations for how jurors make up their minds during the decision-making process. There is a plethora of research showing juror decisions are influenced by many other contributing factors, including such things as defendant, victim, and juror demographics; personality traits of jurors; judge’s instructions; and so forth.

Among one of the more researched areas regarding extra-legal contributing factors to juror decisions is pretrial publicity, which tends to be pro-prosecution. It has been argued that jurors can confuse what they have learned via pretrial publicity with actual evidence presented at trial, thus making it very difficult for jurors to disregard––even when the judge admonishes the jury to ignore it. Emotional pretrial publicity (e.g., the college co-ed murdered on the evening of her wedding) appears to have a bigger impact on decisions than does factual information (e.g., the murder weapon’s retrieval). One reason may be that the effect of emotional information persists longer than does the effect of factual information. A change of venue or postponing the trial may be required to mitigate the influence of emotional information.

Another factor that affects jurors’ decisions is the defendant’s characteristics. If a big difference exists between the moral standing of the criminal and that of the victim, jurors are likely to be less lenient. There is also a slight tendency for jurors to treat attractive defendants more leniently than unattractive defendants. Additionally, jurors hold corporations to a higher standard than individual defendants because corporations are expected to have an interior system of checks and balances.

Ironically, a judge’s admonishment to disregard evidence may also make that evidence more salient to jurors. According to the theory of psychological reactance (Shaw & Skolnick, 1995), jurors are more likely to go against the judge’s instructions if they feel their freedom of choice is taken away. Perhaps this effect occurs because the evidence is now somehow viewed by jurors as more important, by virtue of their attention being drawn to it; or, according to reactance theory, jurors may simply dislike being told what to do. Instructing jurors to ignore hearsay evidence appears more effective than telling them to ignore prior conviction evidence. Evidence that has been presented and then termed inadmissible can also affect juror decisions. Impeachment evidence—information about a defendant’s past behavior presented to discredit a defendant’s testimony—may also have a negative impact on juror decisions. And, when the evidence in a case is complex, jurors’ decisions may be affected by the credentials of an expert witness.

To examine how jurors deliberate as a group, researchers study groups making the types of decisions that must be made in court. There is, however, a ban on most research examining real juries during deliberation. However, a great deal of mock jury research has shown similar findings to that of actual juries (Bornstein, 1999). In fact, mock jury research tends to show smaller effects than what are found with actual juries. Before a jury is formed, attorneys for both sides have a chance to examine and question potential jury members during voir dire. During voir dire, attorneys attempt to identify those jurors who they believe will be strong and influential. Very well-educated jurors with high occupational status tend to wield more power than other jurors. The foreman, who is most likely to be the first one to speak and may ask if the jury should take an initial vote, also influences the jury decision by controlling the procedures and interactions of the other jurors. The selection of a foreman and the initial vote occur during the orientation stage of deliberation. When an initial vote is taken early, the remaining deliberation may be verdict driven, which results in a shortened discussion of the evidence. When there is a delay before the initial vote, the deliberations are more likely to be evidence driven. When an initial vote shows a clear majority, there is a good chance that the verdict will reflect that initial majority. During the open conflict stage, the majority of jurors will try to change the minds of the minority through informative (data-driven) and normative (peer-pressure) influence. A small number of jurors use up most of the deliberation time, and evidence-based conversation comprises about 75% of the deliberation. If the initial majority is small or the vote split, a leniency bias may lead to a verdict of not guilty. During the final phase for juries that have reached a decision, there are usually attempts to reconcile jurors who may have become bitter and estranged from one another.

The 12-person jury system was adopted from that of English law, though the original principle on which this number became the standard is unclear. Though the verdicts of 12-person juries do not differ significantly from those of 6-person juries, they tend to deliberate longer, recall evidence better, and represent the community more thoroughly. Their verdicts are likely to be more consistent with the sentiment of the larger community. For capital trials, the verdict reached must be unanimous, although a majority of states require a unanimous verdict for other criminal trials too. Only about half of the states require unanimity for misdemeanor trials. The remaining states permit a majority decision to suffice. Majority rule juries use more peer pressure, vote more times, and discuss evidence less than unanimity juries. When the necessary majority has been reached, meaningful discussion among majority jurors ceases. When a decision cannot be reached, the jury is considered hung. Hung juries occur most frequently when the evidence is unconvincing, the arguments have been ineffective, and the letter of the law is vague. If the judge refuses to accept the hung jury and declare a mistrial, he or she may give the jurors a dynamite charge strongly encouraging them to reconsider whether they can come to a decision.

Juries are not bound to explain how they came to their decision and will sometimes refer to their moral conscience rather than to the law in deciding a case. If they feel the law would result in an unjust outcome, the result may be jury nullification (of the law). Jury nullification is more likely when juries have been notified of their nullification powers. A different interpretation of disregard for the law is that juries simply do not understand the relevant law. A great deal of recent research has examined juror instructions and the amount of “legalese” included in these instructions. Some states have actually changed their legal terminology so jurors can better understand the legal decision-making process. For example, The Judicial Council of California has adopted award-winning plain language civil and criminal jury instructions that accurately convey the law using language that is understandable to jurors.

Despite the negative effects of a few highly publicized poor jury decisions, juries generally function quite well. They rely on the evidence, and almost all jurors indicate they feel they had an opportunity to voice their opinion. Those who call for jury reform include groups that want to improve the current jury system and those who believe the system is unfixable. Methods proposed for improving the system include allowing juries to take notes, improving the timing and comprehensibility of jury instructions, compensating jurors better, allowing jurors to indirectly ask witnesses questions, and permitting them to discuss the trial before deliberation begins. Evidence shows that all these methods have some degree of effectiveness, though there are concerns about how well the jurors would follow the rules regarding some of these changes.

Possibly the greatest amount of research examining juror decision making in the U.S. Court system has focused on juror bias. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has demonstrated that poor, minority defendants are found guilty more often, given lengthier sentences, and found more culpable than are White defendants and those of higher socioeconomic status (SES; Espinoza & Willis-Esqueda, 2008). Though research on prejudice in general has shown a shift from blatant to more subtle feelings of prejudice and displays of discrimination, bias in juror decisions toward low-SES minority defendants has remained relatively stable. In addition, if minority defendants are accused of committing crimes against majority group members, juries are even more punitive. These extra-legal demographic factors extend to juror race and ethnicity, gender, age, political affiliation, and personality attributes. Most of this research has established the biasing effects of these extra-legal factors in juror decisions.

If the jury system is unfixable, judges would be the most likely replacements. But judges are no more impartial and unbiased than are jurors. That juries are composed of a group of individuals actually makes it more unlikely that the bias or prejudice of an individual would impact the group decision. In about 75% of cases, it seems that judges would have come to the same decision as the juries did. Juries tend to disagree in cases in which the arguments of both sides are considered to be somewhat equal rather than in cases clearly favoring one side. Also, when judges and juries disagree, jurors tend to be more lenient. This leniency is restricted to lesser crimes (e.g., drug possession) rather than more serious crimes (e.g., rape).