Group decision making in the jury context: A combined theoretical approach

Larissa A Schmersal, University of Texas at El Paso


Much of the extant research on jury decision making has been conducted at the juror level, examining the individual decisions of mock jurors. Although studying mock juror decisions provides initial insight into jury decision making, studying the deliberation process should be a priority for future research. Few theoretical models have been developed to examine the decision process of the jury. The social combination and the social communication approaches provide some insight into this process; however, analysis of these methods is scarce due, in part, to their limited applicability.^ The current study examined the jury deliberation using a combined theoretical approach. Participants were 216 undergraduate students from the University of Texas at El Paso, participating in 37 mock juries. Results indicate that the group’s final decision most often reflects the preference of the initial majority. The evidence discussed during the deliberation did not vary by the distribution of pre-deliberation individual verdict preferences. Individual jurors’ participation in the deliberation differed according to the initial distribution of verdicts. The majority faction as a whole participated more in the deliberation; however, individual jurors in the minority faction actually participated more in the deliberation than individual jurors in the majority faction. Individuals who changed their verdict preference during the deliberation did not differ from non-changers in participation in the jury-level model, but these individuals expressed less confidence in the final group decision. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Law

Recommended Citation

Schmersal, Larissa A, "Group decision making in the jury context: A combined theoretical approach" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3489991.