Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 219–235 | Cite as

The Effects of Pretrial Publicity on Juror Verdicts: A Meta-Analytic Review

  • Nancy Mehrkens Steblay
  • Jasmina Besirevic
  • Solomon M. Fulero
  • Belia Jimenez-Lorente
Article
  • 538 Downloads

Abstract

The effect of pretrial publicity (PTP) on juror verdicts was examined through a meta-analysis of 44 empirical tests representing 5,755 subjects. In support of the hypothesis, subjects exposed to negative PTP were significantly more likely to judge the defendant guilty compared to subjects exposed to less or no negative PTP. Greater effect sizes were produced in studies which included a pretrial verdict assessment, use of the potential juror pool as subjects, multiple points of negative information included in the PTP, real PTP, crimes of murder, sexual abuse, or drugs, and greater length of time between PTP exposure and judgment. The effect was attenuated with student subjects, use of general rather than specific PTP information, certain types of PTP content, a post-trial predeliberation verdict, and specific types of crimes. Implications of these results are discussed, along with possible mechanisms that underlie the PTP effect.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Bennett, W. L., & Feldman, M. S. (1981). Reconstructing reality in the courtroom: Justice and judgment in American culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carroll, J. S., Kerr, N. L., Alfini, J. J, Weaver, F. M., MacCoun, R. J., & Feldman, V. (1986). Free press and fair trial: The role of behavioral research. Law and Human Behavior, 10, 187-201.Google Scholar
  3. Costantini, E., & King, J. (1980/81). The partial juror: Correlates and causes of prejudgment. Law and Society Review, 15, 9-40.Google Scholar
  4. Costley, C. L. (1988). Meta-analysis of involvement research. Advances in Consumer Research, 15, 554-562.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, R. W. (1986). Pretrial publicity, the timing of the trial, and mock jurors' decision processes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 590-607.Google Scholar
  6. DeLuca, A. J. (1979). Tipping the scales of justice: The effects of pretrial publicity. Unpublished master's thesis, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.Google Scholar
  7. Dexter, H. R., Cutler, B. L., & Moran, G. (1992). A test of voir dire as a remedy for the prejudicial effects of pretrial publicity. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22, 819-832.Google Scholar
  8. Greene, E., & Wade, R. (1988). Of private talk and public print: General pretrial publicity and juror decision making. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 2, 123-135.Google Scholar
  9. Fulero, S. M. (1987). The role of behavioral research in the free press/fair trial controversy: Another view. Law and Human Behavior, 11, 259-264.Google Scholar
  10. Fulero, S., Olsen-Fulero, L., & Wulff, K. (1991, June). Stability and structure of mediating story variables in rape juror decision making. Paper presented at the American Psychological Society convention, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  11. Fulero, S., & Penrod, S. (1990). The myths and realities of attorney jury selection folklore and scientific jury selection: What works? Ohio Northern Law Review, 17, 229-253.Google Scholar
  12. Hastie, R., Penrod, S., & Pennington, N. (1983). Inside the jury. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hoiberg, B., & Stires, L. (1973). The effect of several types of pretrial publicity on the guilty attributions of simulated jurors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 3, 267-275.Google Scholar
  14. Hvistendahl, J. K. (1979). The effect of placement of biasing information. Journalism Quarterly, 56, 863-865.Google Scholar
  15. Kovera, M. (1994). The media and allegations of sexual misconduct: The effect of agenda-setting on appraisals of credibility. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  16. Kramer, G. P., & Kerr, N. L. (1989). Laboratory simulation and bias in the study of juror behavior: A methodological note. Law and Human Behavior, 13, 89-100.Google Scholar
  17. Kramer, G. P., Kerr, N. L., & Carroll, J. S. (1990). Pretrial publicity, judicial remedies, and jury bias. Law and Human Behavior, 14, 409-438.Google Scholar
  18. Linz, D. & Penrod, S. (1992). Exploring the First and Sixth Amendments: Pretrial publicity and jury decision making. In D. K. Kagehiro & W. S. Laufer (Eds.), Handbook of psychology and law (pp. 3-20). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. McGuire, W. J. (1985). Attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology (pp. 233-346). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  20. Moore, A. J. (1989). Trial by schema: Cognitive filters in the courtroom. UCLA Law Review, 37, 273-341.Google Scholar
  21. Moran, G., & Cutler, B. L. (1991). The prejudicial impact of pretrial publicity. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 345-367.Google Scholar
  22. Moran, G., & Cutler, B. L. (1997). Bogus publicity items and the contingency between awareness and media-induced pretrial prejudice. Law and Human Behavior, 21, 339-344.Google Scholar
  23. Mullin, C., Imrich, D., & Linz, D. (1989, August). The effects of date-rape information and prejudicial and nonprejudicial pretrial publicity on jury decision making in a sexual assault case. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association meeting, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  24. Nelson, M. D. (1972). Free press-fair trial: The effects of “sensational” and “non-sensational” pretrial news stories and of a judge's admonition upon “juror” and “non-juror” guilt assessment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Note. (1846). Trial by jury in New York. Law Reports, 9, 193-201.Google Scholar
  26. Ogloff, J. R. P., & Vidmar, N. (1994). The impact of pretrial publicity on jurors. Law and Human Behavior, 18, 507-525.Google Scholar
  27. Olsen-Fulero, L., & Fulero, S. (1997). Common sense rape judgments: An empathy-complexity theory of rape juror story making. Psychology, Public Policy, and the Law, 3, 402-427.Google Scholar
  28. Olsen-Fulero, L., Fulero, S., & Wulff, K. (1989, August). Who did what to whom? Modeling rape jurors' cognitive processes. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association convention, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  29. Otto, A., Penrod, S., & Dexter, H. (1994). The biasing impact of pretrial publicity on juror judgments. Law and Human Behavior, 18, 453-462.Google Scholar
  30. Otto, A., Penrod, S., & Hirt, E. (1990) The influence of pretrial publicity on juror judgments in a civil case. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  31. Padawer-Singer, A., & Barton, A. H. (1975). The impact of pretrial publicity on jurors' verdicts. In R. J. Simon (Ed.), The jury system in America: A critical overview (pp. 123-139). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Pennington, N. (1981). Causal reasoning and decision making: The case of juror decisions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  33. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1981, August). Juror decision making: Story structure and verdict choice. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association convention, Los Angeles, CA.Google Scholar
  34. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1986). Evidence evaluation in complex decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 242-258.Google Scholar
  35. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1988). Explanation-based decision making: Effects of memory structure on judgment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14, 521-533.Google Scholar
  36. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1990). Practical implications of psychological research on juror and jury decision making. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16, 90-105.Google Scholar
  37. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1991). A cognitive theory of juror decision making: The story model. Cardozo Law Review, 13, 519-557.Google Scholar
  38. Pennington, N., & Hastie, R. (1992). Explaining the evidence: Tests of the story model for juror decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 189-206.Google Scholar
  39. Polvi, N., Jack, L., Lyon, D. Laird, P., & Ogloff, J. (1996). Mock juror's verdicts in a child sexual abuse case: The effects of pretrial publicity. Paper presented at American Psychology-Law Society Conference, Hilton Head, S.C.Google Scholar
  40. Riedel, R. (1973). Effects of pretrial publicity on male and female jurors and judges in a mock rape trial. Psychological Reports, 73, 819-832.Google Scholar
  41. Rosenthal, R. (1991). Meta-analytic procedures for social research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Simon, R. J. (1966). Murder, juries, and the press. Trans-Action, 1966 (May–June), 64-65.Google Scholar
  43. Simon, R. J., & Eimermann, T. (1971). The jury finds not guilty: Another look at media influence on the jury. Journalism Quarterly, 48, 343-344.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, V. L. (1991). Prototypes in the courtroom: Lay representations of legal concepts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 857-872.Google Scholar
  45. Smith, V. L. (1993). When prior knowledge and law collide: Helping jurors use the law. Law and Human Behavior, 17, 507-536.Google Scholar
  46. Steblay, N. M. (1992). A meta-analytic review of the weapon-focus effect. Law and Human Behavior, 16, 413-424.Google Scholar
  47. Steblay, N. M. (1997). Social influence in eyewitness recall: A meta-analytic review of lineup instruction effects. Law and Human Behavior, 21, 283-297.Google Scholar
  48. Studebaker, C. A., & Penrod, S. D. (1997). Pretrail publicity: The media, the law and common sense. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 3, 428-460.Google Scholar
  49. Sue, S., Smith, R. E., & Gilbert, R. (1974). Biasing effects of pretrial publicity on judicial decisions. Journal of Criminal Justice, 2, 163-171.Google Scholar
  50. Sue, S., Smith, R. E., & Pedroza, G. (1975). Authoritarianism, pretrial publicity and awareness of bias in simulated jurors. Psychological Reports, 37, 1299-1302.Google Scholar
  51. Tans, M., & Chaffee, S. (1966). Pretrial publicity and juror prejudice. Journalism Quarterly, 43, 647-654.Google Scholar
  52. Tulving, E., & Thomson, D. M. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Psychological Review, 80, 352-373.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Mehrkens Steblay
    • 1
  • Jasmina Besirevic
    • 1
  • Solomon M. Fulero
    • 2
  • Belia Jimenez-Lorente
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAugsburg CollegeMinneapolis
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySinclair CollegeDayton

Personalised recommendations