Expert testimony in cases of battered women defendants; influence of defendant characterization, testimony explicitness and juror gender on individual juror and group jury decisions [thesis]

Alison Davis
Mock juron (N= 34 1 ) were exposed to a simulated trial involving a woman charged with the murder of her abusive husband. The purpose of thîs study was to investigate the influence of expert testimony on sirnulated jurors' beliefs and decision-making with regard to battered wornen. L t also sought to examine the influence of different characterizations of the women (BWS or social agency) as presented by expert witnesses as well as the explicitness of this testimony (general, case-speci fic, or
more » ... ase-expl icit ) for the purposes of establishing a plea of sel f-defense, and the role of the gender of the jurors. Participants were randomly assigned to one of six conditions in a mixed 2 (characterization of defendant) x 3 (esplicitness of testimonyj x 2 (gender) x 5 (Private Belief in Guilt Ratings) design. Although the results of this investigation demonstrated that the testimony of the defendant exerted a p a t e r influence on juron' decisions expert testimony influenced jurors by reducing pre-existing misconceptions of battered women. While BWS and social agency testirnony tended to yield equivalent juror and j urg decisions, case-explicit testimony resulted in the most unfavourable perceptions and the most stringent verdicts for the defendant. Gender differences were also observed. Women j urors tended to evaluate the defendant and expert witness as more credible, perceived the defendant more favourably and rendered more lenient verdicts as compared to the male jurors. .4cknowledgements f would like to ;ratefull'; thank Kim Matheson whose suggestions and critiques were of geat assistance and whose encouragement was always appreciated. Special acknowledgrnent are also be extended to Isabel MacKay and Fiona MacGregor who assisted in gathering the data for this endeavour.
doi:10.22215/etd/1997-03805 fatcat:qagbd4p2dfacbdkprfmdyolqqi