Mitigating jurors' racial biases: the effects of content and timing of jury instructions.

Author:Ingriselli, Elizabeth
Position:IV. Method through Conclusion, with footnotes and appendix, p. 1717-1745
 
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  1. METHOD

    1. Participants

      Four hundred and twelve Amazon Mechanical Turk (117) participants completed the study, 175 of whom were male. (118) There were 26 Asian/Asian Americans, 30 Latino/Hispanic Americans, 35 Black/African Americans, 16 Native/American Indians, 333 White/European Americans, and 6 Other participants. (119) They ranged in age from 18 to 75, and the median age was 32. Participants were restricted to those whose location was the United States and who had an approval rate of 95% or more for previous work assignments. (120) The participants were paid $1.10 for fifteen minutes of participation.

    2. Design

      The experiment employed a 4 X 2 X 2 X 3 between-subjects design. The independent variables were content of instructions (egalitarian, self-affirming, procedural justice, none); timing of instructions (pre-evidence, post-evidence); explicit race salience (high, low); and racism category of the participant (non-racist, aversive racist, true racist). In all conditions, the defendant was black.

      For the independent variable of content of instructions, in all conditions the participants were instructed on the reasonable doubt standard in determining guilt. The instructions consisted of a page of text with two to four paragraphs depending on the condition, and were presented in bold typeface. In the egalitarian condition, participants read jury instructions that primed egalitarian views. Specifically, they were instructed:

      Whatever your verdict may be, it must not rest upon baseless speculations. Nor may it be influenced in any way by bias, prejudice, or sympathy. Research has shown that some individuals have unconscious biases that affect their judgments, so please monitor any such biases you may have and do not let them affect your judgments. In the self-affirming condition, participants read instructions that affirmed their self-worth. Specifically, they were instructed:

      Our system greatly respects jurors' abilities to evaluate evidence and return just verdicts. Studies have shown that jurors thoughtfully and carefully examine evidence, especially if they think of their own positive attributes and experiences before considering the evidence. In light of this research, please take a moment to think about your own positive attributes and experiences. Now that you have reflected on your own positive attributes and experiences, I have full confidence that you will consider the evidence carefully and render an appropriate decision. In the procedural justice condition, participants read instructions that primed the importance of using fair procedures. Specifically, they were instructed:

      Whatever your verdict may be, it is important that you use fair procedures in forming your judgments about the case and in trying to reach your verdict. There are several key elements in procedural justice. First, each juror should consider all the evidence presented about the case in an open minded way and not be influenced by bias, prejudice, or sympathy. You should focus on facts, and avoid being swayed by either prejudice or sympathy. Second, when forming your opinions you should fairly consider all of the evidence. Your job is to identify the facts you need to apply the law fairly and reach a fair verdict. Third, when making decisions as a juror it is important that you do your best to do what is fair for the defendant in terms of the facts of the case and the laws in your community. These rules are designed to help guarantee a fair trial, and our law accordingly sets forth serious consequences if the rules are not followed. In the no instructions condition, participants did not read any jury instructions except for the brief explanation of the reasonable doubt standard that participants in all conditions read.

      For the independent variable of timing of instructions, instructions were given either before or after the presentation of evidence.

      For the independent variable of explicit race salience, the salience of race in the description of the crime was either high or low. In the high race salience condition, a bystander was heard complaining about an increase in crimes committed by blacks in the neighborhood. In addition, participants saw a picture of the black defendant. In the low race salience condition, race was not mentioned: the bystander was heard complaining about an increase in crime (not specific to race). In addition, there was no picture of the defendant, though participants were told the race of the defendant in the written description of the defendant so that they knew the defendant's race among other information.

      For the independent variable of racism category, there were three categories: non-racist, aversive racist, and true racist. Participants were categorized by combining each participant's implicit and explicit racism scores. The implicit racism score had two levels (high and low), which was determined by a median split of the implicit racism data, obtained using an implicit racism measure designed for online research by Jordan LaBouff. (121) The explicit racism score also had two levels (high and low), which was determined by a median split of the explicit racism data obtained using an explicit racism measure, the Modern Racism Scale. (122) Then four groups were created based on participants' implicit and explicit scores. Those with both low implicit and low explicit racism scores were labeled non-racists, as they exhibited a lack of racism in both measures. There were 104 participants in this group. Those with high implicit and low explicit racism scores were labeled aversive racists in line with the definition of aversive racism. There were 81 participants in this group. Lastly, those with both high implicit and high explicit racism scores were labeled true racists, as they had high levels of racism in both measures. There were 101 participants in this group. Those who were low in implicit racism and high in explicit racism were excluded from the subsequent analyses, as this combination is not readily explainable by any race theories; it is unusual not to have implicit bias but to be outwardly and explicitly biased. There were 75 participants in this group. (123)

      Six dependent variables were measured for each crime: guilt of the defendant, confidence in guilt/innocence judgment, perceived prior record, sentence judgment, recall of evidence, and recognition of evidence. The guilt of the defendant was measured on a seven-point scale (1 = not at all likely to be guilty to 7 = extremely likely to be guilty), as was confidence in guilt/innocence judgment (1 = not at all confident to 7 = extremely confident), perceived prior record (1 = definitely not to 7 = definitely), and sentence judgment (1 = 0 years to 7 = 5+ years). (124)

      Participants' recall of evidence pertaining to the crime was measured by asking participants to list as much information regarding the crime as they could remember. (125) Information recalled was coded by counting the number of incriminating and exonerating pieces of evidence each participant recorded. The number of times participants mentioned each type of evidence corresponded to their score for that variable; for example, if a participant mentioned three incriminating pieces of evidence and two exonerating pieces of evidence for the crime, the score would be three and two for each type of evidence, respectively. Recognition of the evidence pertaining to the crime consisted of twelve items, six of which had actually been included in the evidence and six of which were foils. For each type of evidence (actual evidence and foil evidence), there were two incriminating statements, two exonerating statements, and two neutral statements. Participants indicated on a seven-point scale whether they thought each of the statements had been included in the crime scenario, where i = definitely not and 7 = definitely. The neutral pieces of evidence were not included in analyses, as they were not related to any hypotheses of the study.

    3. Materials

      The implicit racism measure was a Qualtrics-based Implicit Association Test (IAT) that measured participants' levels of implicit racism and operated as follows. Participants completed three blocks of trials: the first was not of interest, as it was meant to acclimate participants to the task, but the subsequent two were of interest. In the first block, participants viewed two columns running down the page pairing categories together--the left column was flower/pleasant and the right column was insect/unpleasant. To the left of the columns were words that fit into one of the two columns: words that describe flowers (for example, Geranium), words that describe insects (for example, Centipede), words that describe pleasant things (for example, love), and words that describe unpleasant things (for example, vomit). Participants had to click the radio button in the correct column to categorize the terms on the left into their appropriate groups. Participants were instructed to begin at the top and run down the left side of the page when categorizing the terms. Participants were given thirty-five seconds to complete the block, and then the page automatically advanced when time was up. This time was chosen to make it impossible to categorize all terms within the timeframe, causing some terms to be left unpaired.

      After this initial introductory block, the blocks of interest followed. Participants were not instructed that only these blocks were of interest. These blocks followed the same procedure as the initial block, but the category pairings changed. In one of the two subsequent blocks the left column was black/pleasant and the right column was white/unpleasant; in the other of the two subsequent blocks the left column was black/unpleasant and the right column was white/pleasant. The presentation of these blocks was randomized to prevent any order effects. The words that described pleasant and unpleasant items were the same as in the first...

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