Date of Award

Summer 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Donald H. Smith

Committee Member

Randy R. Gainey

Committee Member

James A. Nolan

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 J36


Jury deliberations are secret and there is great curiosity, both among academics and the lay population, about what goes on inside the jury room. Prior research suggests that individuals are very susceptible to the social pressures of others and that this has important implications for decision-making among jury members. Research on jury decision-making also suggests the importance of the assigned decision rule and gender in jury deliberations and trial outcomes. This study used a fictional vignette clearly constructed to elicit a not guilty reaction. The impact of other jurors' votes, assigned decision rule (unanimous versus two-thirds majority), and juror gender on jurors' votes of guilt or innocence and commitment to that vote was investigated. Analyses of data collected from 454 undergraduate students revealed few guilty votes in any of the conditions, but important variation in commitment to the votes. Few direct effects of the condition were found but some interesting interactions were revealed. Findings are discussed in terms of their relation to theoretical and practical concerns in the criminal justice system. Suggestions for potential design modifications are also discussed.


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