Can Jurors Recognize Missing Control Groups, Confounds, and Experimenter Bias in Psychological Science?

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Abstract

This study examined the ability of jury-eligible community members (N = 248) to detect internal validity threats in psychological science presented during a trial. Participants read a case summary in which an expert testified about a study that varied in internal validity (valid, missing control group, confound, and experimenter bias) and ecological validity (high, low). Ratings of expert evidence quality and expert credibility were higher for the valid versus missing control group versions only. Internal validity did not influence verdict or ratings of plaintiff credibility and no differences emerged as a function of ecological validity. Expert evidence quality, expert credibility, and plaintiff credibility were positively correlated with verdict. Implications for the scientific reasoning literature and for trials containing psychological science are discussed.

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