An Investigation of the Impact of Note Taking on the Quality of Mock Jurors’ Decisions

Tanya Strub (2009). An Investigation of the Impact of Note Taking on the Quality of Mock Jurors’ Decisions PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Tanya Strub
Thesis Title An Investigation of the Impact of Note Taking on the Quality of Mock Jurors’ Decisions
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Blake McKimmie
Dr Barbara Masser
Total pages 136
Total black and white pages 136
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary Abstract This research investigated the extent to which taking notes influenced the quality of mock jurors’ decisions. High quality decisions were defined in this research as those which did not reflect the influence of the offender stereotype. The impact of note taking on the quality of jurors’ decisions is central to the judicial community’s concerns about note taking as a jury aid and their willingness to offer it in trial contexts. Previous research has argued that note takers make better quality decisions than non-note takers because note takers recall more trial content and make judgements that better reflect the evidence presented. However, according to dual process models of persuasion, high quality decisions should show evidence of both effortful processing of information and no influence of peripheral cues, such as stereotypes. To date, the existing literature has neglected to consider the extent to which note takers, as compared to non-note takers, are influenced by peripheral cues. The current research sought to address this by investigating the extent to which note taking and non-note taking mock jurors were influenced by stereotypes when making decisions in a mock criminal trial. In particular, note taking and non-note taking mock jurors were presented with a criminal trial in which either a male or female defendant had been charged with a stereotypically masculine crime (e.g., aggravated robbery or murder). The extent to which mock jurors were more likely to convict the male defendant and acquit the female defendant was used as a marker of the extent that stereotypes about offenders influenced participants in these studies. Across studies, note takers’ perceptions of guilt, evaluation of the defendant, and, in some instances, recall of trial content, reflected stereotype-based processing while the corresponding measures for non-note takers did not. This research then went on to investigate why note takers were more vulnerable to the influence of stereotypes than non-note takers. It was proposed that one reason might be the requirement that note takers simultaneously record and evaluate trial content. Previous research has shown that persons engaged in dual tasks rely on stereotypes to increase information processing efficiency and are therefore able to re-direct cognitive resources to the additional task. Consistent with previous studies, the current research found that both note takers and mock jurors engaged in an additional task during the trial were more vulnerable to the influence of stereotypes than non-note takers. Furthermore, whilst investigating interventions designed to reduce the influence of stereotypes on note takers’ decisions, results revealed that such interventions were less successful in improving decision quality than interventions that removed the requirement to engage in dual tasks. In particular, the influence of stereotypes was reduced when note takers were encouraged to elaborate on the content of their notes during designated review periods. Whilst methodological features of this research program--namely a reliance on student samples and the relative brevity of mock trials used--may have led to an underestimation of the reliance on stereotypes for note takers, the research has implications for the instructions given to jurors about note taking in judicial contexts. Specifically, the central conclusion of the thesis is that it would seem prudent to amend instructions to direct note takers to engage in the effortful review of their notes prior to coming together to reach a verdict.
Keyword note taking and review
dual process models of persuasion
Dual Task
Additional Notes page 6 landscape

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Created: Mon, 05 Apr 2010, 20:54:09 EST by Miss Tanya Strub on behalf of Library - Information Access Service