AuthorLieberman, Joel David, 1967-
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCognitive-experiential self-theory maintains that there are two principal ways of processing information. The first is in a rational mode; the second is in an experiential (emotional) mode. Previous research has demonstrated that when participants are motivated to process information experientially, they tend to rely on heuristic cues in their decision making. However, when participants are motivated to think in a rational mode, they devote greater attention to the information presented to them, and make more accurate decisions. This may have an impact on legal decision making. Attorneys in personal injury trials often attempt to present their case in a manner directed at either rational or emotional processing, under the assumption that emotional jurors will be supportive of the plaintiff while rational jurors will be supportive of the defendant. However, in an attempt to motivate emotional processing attorneys may inadvertently activate heuristic cues that have an impact on juror decision making, such as the defendant attractiveness bias (previous research has demonstrated that attractive defendants receive more lenient sentences than unattractive defendants). The hypothesis that an attractiveness-leniency effect would occur when individuals were in an experiential mode, but not when they were in a rational mode was tested. Mock jurors were put into either an experiential or rational mode through the use of a number of materials and trial evidence. They were then presented with a photograph of a defendant who was either high or low in physical attractiveness. Following this, a transcript of a personal injury trial and relevant jury instructions were presented. Finally, participants rendered verdicts on a number of measures including monetary damages, liability verdicts, and assessments of negligence. The results indicated that an attractiveness-leniency effect was operative when individuals were in an experiential mode, but not when they were in a rational mode. However, this effect appears to be limited to variables that are emotionally oriented, rather than ones that require analytic reasoning. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential implications of cognitive-experiential self-theory on juror decision making in a variety of related areas.
Degree ProgramGraduate College