Date of this Version
Published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law 29 (2011), pp 376–394.
Jury researchers have long been concerned about the generalizability of results from experiments that utilize undergraduate students as mock jurors. The current experiment examined the differences between 120 students (55 males and 65 females, mean age = 20 years) and 99 community members (49 males and 50 females, mean age = 42 years) in culpability evaluations for homicide and sexual assault cases. Explicit attitude measures served as indicators of bias for sexual assault, defendant, and homicide adjudication. Results revealed that student and community participants showed different biases on these general explicit attitude measures and these differences manifested in judgments of culpability (guilt likelihood, convincingness of state’s arguments, convincingness of defendant’s arguments, and the defendants’ criminal intentions) in sexual assault and homicide case scenarios. The results also showed that student mock jurors were more lenient when assigning guilt in homicide cases than were community members. The implications for future mock jury research are discussed.