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Meyer, K., Boohar, E., Westerman, L., Hertz, M., Urineza, T., Kelchen, H.,Eagan, S., & Gervais, S. (2020, April) Understanding Scientific Evidence in Court: The Moderating Role of Gender Stereotype Threat in Verdict Decisions. Poster for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln NE


Copyright 2020 Kaela Meyer, Erika Boohar, Laurel Westerman, Morgan Hurtz, Trina Uwineza, Sarah Eagan & Sarah Gervais


Scientific evidence is becoming a more prominent presence in court cases, so it is vital that jurors are able to effectively understand and interpret the scientific data. Although understanding scientific evidence is often important in a jury’s final verdict, there are a plethora of pitfalls that could undermine justice from being properly served (O'Brien et al., 2015). One example that could negatively impact a jury’s final verdict is stereotype threat, especially in women when analyzing scientific evidence. The current study examined the relationship between stereotype threat across men and women, and how it impacted understanding scientific evidence while choosing a verdict in a civil trial. It was hypothesized that there will be a negative association between a woman’s understanding of scientific testimony and their verdict. It was also hypothesized that this relationship will be moderated by high levels of stereotype threat for women and would not be moderated by stereotype threat for men. Participants completed an array of measures before watching a mock trial featuring scientific evidence about brain functioning. As a mock jury, the participants decided whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. Moderation analyses were run in order to examine the impact of stereotype threat on understanding scientific evidence and verdict decisions. Results showed that for women, greater stereotype threat in science was correlated with less scientific testimony comprehension. There was marginally significant interaction between stereotype threat for women and scientific testimony comprehension as predictors of juror verdicts, not shown for men.

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