Jurors' Use of Hearsay Evidence: The Effects of Type and Timing of Instructions

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Abstract

To examine the effects of curative judicial instructions on jurors' perceptions of hearsay testimony, mock jurors (N = 180) were exposed to one of six versions of a trial that included proprosecution hearsay evidence accompanied by either disregard or limiting instructions, presented either immediately after the hearsay, at the end of the trial, or at both of these times. Also included were control conditions in which (1) the information was presented as nonhearsay (first-hand), (2) no hearsay was presented, or (3) the hearsay was presented without instructions. Results indicated that neither the hearsay nor the instructions, regardless of their form or timing, affected verdicts. In fact, findings revealed that participants may have disregarded the hearsay regardless of instructions heard. There was some evidence to suggest, however, that evaluations of other admissible evidence presented by the hearsay witness were negatively affected.

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