Second-guessing the jury: Stereotypic and hindsight biases in perceptions of court cases

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Abstract

This research examined the effects of stereotypic beliefs and hindsight biases on perceptions of court cases. Subjects read evidentiary material pertaining to a criminal trial in which the defendant either was a stereotyped offender or was not. Additionally, some subjects were given outcome information about the verdict attained in the trial; half of these subjects were told that the defendant had been found guilty, and the other half were told that he had been found not guilty. The remainder were not given any outcome information. Subjects were than asked to predict the likely outcome of a trial based on the presented evidence. Typical hindsight bias effects were expected and obtained for nonstereotyped offenders; subjects considering these cases viewed the evidence as less incriminating when they were told the defendant had been found not guilty, and they found it to be more incriminating when they were told the defendant had been found guilty, when compared to the no-outcome-information group. However, no hindsight biases were evident in judgments of cases involving stereotyped defendants, who were seen as relatively more likely to be guilty regardless of the nature of outcome information presented. Particularly striking was the lack of impact of the “not guilty” outcome information on perceptions of the guilt of stereotyped defendants. These findings suggest that strong expectations held in foresight may not be amenable to modification in hindsight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1121
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume20
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

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