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The Effect of Ambiguous Question Wording on Jurors’ Presumption of Innocence

Martire, Kristy A. and Dahlman, Christian LU (2019) In Psychology, Crime and Law
Abstract
Research suggests that jurors misunderstand the presumption of innocence. However, past studies have not asked participants to estimate the defendant’s probability of guilt, setting aside the fact of charge and indictment. We conduct two studies to explore the impact of this question wording on estimates of the probability of guilt/innocence by jury-eligible Mturk workers. In Experiment 1 (N = 275), question wording (legal, factual and ambiguous) was varied within participants and revealed significantly higher estimates of innocence in response to the legal than the factual or ambiguously worded question. In Experiment 2 (N = 303), question wording was manipulated between participants both before (prior) and after (posterior) the... (More)
Research suggests that jurors misunderstand the presumption of innocence. However, past studies have not asked participants to estimate the defendant’s probability of guilt, setting aside the fact of charge and indictment. We conduct two studies to explore the impact of this question wording on estimates of the probability of guilt/innocence by jury-eligible Mturk workers. In Experiment 1 (N = 275), question wording (legal, factual and ambiguous) was varied within participants and revealed significantly higher estimates of innocence in response to the legal than the factual or ambiguously worded question. In Experiment 2 (N = 303), question wording was manipulated between participants both before (prior) and after (posterior) the presentation of evidence. Prior estimates of guilt were significantly lower in the legal than factual or ambiguous conditions. Question wording also predicted posteriors, and these in turn predicted verdicts. These results suggest that imprecise wording may have contributed to concerns about jurors’ understanding of the presumption of innocence, highlighting the need for further research. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Procedural law, Evidence, Processrätt, Bevis
in
Psychology, Crime and Law
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:85073969999
ISSN
1068-316X
DOI
10.1080/1068316X.2019.1669598
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d02ddce6-7b70-4adc-ada8-627db9c4fcdb
date added to LUP
2019-10-03 09:50:57
date last changed
2019-11-13 05:41:31
@article{d02ddce6-7b70-4adc-ada8-627db9c4fcdb,
  abstract     = {Research suggests that jurors misunderstand the presumption of innocence. However, past studies have not asked participants to estimate the defendant’s probability of guilt, setting aside the fact of charge and indictment. We conduct two studies to explore the impact of this question wording on estimates of the probability of guilt/innocence by jury-eligible Mturk workers. In Experiment 1 (N = 275), question wording (legal, factual and ambiguous) was varied within participants and revealed significantly higher estimates of innocence in response to the legal than the factual or ambiguously worded question. In Experiment 2 (N = 303), question wording was manipulated between participants both before (prior) and after (posterior) the presentation of evidence. Prior estimates of guilt were significantly lower in the legal than factual or ambiguous conditions. Question wording also predicted posteriors, and these in turn predicted verdicts. These results suggest that imprecise wording may have contributed to concerns about jurors’ understanding of the presumption of innocence, highlighting the need for further research.},
  author       = {Martire, Kristy A. and Dahlman, Christian},
  issn         = {1068-316X},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {09},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {Psychology, Crime and Law},
  title        = {The Effect of Ambiguous Question Wording on Jurors’ Presumption of Innocence},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2019.1669598},
  doi          = {10.1080/1068316X.2019.1669598},
  year         = {2019},
}