Personality in Juror Decision-Making: Toward an Idiographic Approach in Research.

I. INTRODUCTION *** During voir dire, jurors are asked to admit their own biases–a tall order, since a basic tenet of psychology is that people do not often even know their own biases and when they do, they may be reluctant to reveal them. (1) Attorneys therefore face a difficult decision in selecting jurors, relying on various strategies that mayor may not be valid. They might consider a juror’s life experiences and demographics such as age, gender, or occupation. They might also rely on “implicit personality theor[ies],” (2) which are personal notions regarding how certain qualities a person possesses might predict their behaviors. (3) In big cases, attorneys often hire trial consulting firms to assist with selecting jurors who are likely to favor their client. (4) Trial consultants utilize forms of strategic jury selection informed by social psychological research. (5) The relevant research ranges from the study of the relation of juror attitudes and demographic characteristics to the study of jurors’ body language as a predictor of verdict preferences. (6) The study of personality has also long been of great interest to those interested in predicting juror behavior. (7) In fact, there now exists a large body of psychological research devoted to identifying personality factors (e.g., neuroticism, authoritarianism, empathy) that predict jurors’ verdicts. (8) But to what extent do jury selection techniques informed by personality research actually yield accurate predictions of case outcomes? Many psychologists are skeptical of the utility of jury selection and for good reason–juror demographic variables and personality measures often do not correlate strongly with verdicts. (9) In fact, there appears to have been a recent noticeable decline in the amount of research exploring juror personality measures as predictors of juror behavior.

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