Authoritarianism and decisions of mock juries: Evidence of jury bias and group polarization

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Abstract

A mock-jury experiment investigated the effects of authoritarianism on juror and jury decisions and examined the generalizability of the group polarization hypothesis for a simulated jury task. 132 high- and 125 low authoritarians (as assessed by the California F Scale) listened to a murder trial and then made judgments about guilt and punishment as individuals, in 6 person juries, and again after deliberations as individuals. As predicted, both high-authoritarian jurors and juries reached guilty verdicts more frequently and imposed more severe punishment than low authoritarians. Further, high authoritarians showed more prediscussion-postdiscussion verdict changes than low authoritarians. Results also support the polarization hypothesis in a jury paradigm. Deliberations produced a shift toward greater severity of punishment for high authoritarians but toward increased leniency for low authoritarians. Guilt verdicts shifted toward acquittal for all jurors. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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