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Jury: Behavioral Aspects - Individual Differences

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Attempts to predict juror verdict preferences based upon juror's background characteristics have had limited success. For example, demographic characteristics like gender, race, and age generally account for very little of the variation in jurors' responses. Attitudinal characteristics can be more powerful, albeit also modest, predictors.

Expectations, beliefs, and values affect the way jurors react to evidence. In that respect, jurors are no different from any other decisionmakers, because people ordinarily scrutinize more carefully, and are more likely to reject, information that is inconsistent with their beliefs and expectations. It is generally easier for people to remember theory-consistent information than theory-inconsistent information; moreover, ambiguous information tends to be interpreted as theory-consistent.

Some types of legal cases and issues are more likely than others to implicate strongly held beliefs or values. A primary example concerns the death penalty: even among jurors willing to impose the death penalty in some cases, the strength of their support for the death penalty can strongly influence the likelihood that they will vote for a death sentence.

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