Debiasing the Courtroom: Using Behavioral Insights to Avoid and Mitigate Cognitive Biases
AuthorYokum, David Vincent
Keywordscontinuous response measurement
judgment and decision making
jury decision making
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.
EmbargoRelease after 6-Apr-2017
AbstractHow can empirical science, and psychology in particular, be harnessed to avoid or eliminate unwanted biases? The body of work herein explores this question across twelve experiments. The first approach we consider is placing the onus on the individual to root out any already existing bias within him or herself. Chapter 3, for example, presents experiments that assess whether people (viz., jurors during voir dire) can accurately "self-diagnose" when they are irreparably biased by negative pretrial publicity. (The answer is a resounding no). A second approach is to try and avoid letting bias enter the courtroom in the first place. Chapter 4, for example, provides an experimental test of an institutional solution known as blind expertise, wherein certain biases of an expert witness are avoided by having an intermediary pick the expert, and then having the expert render an opinion before knowing which litigant made the request. In Chapter 7, we consider a third approach to handling bias, one that concedes it will exist in the courtroom. Namely, instruct jurors on the existence of bias, so that they can try to weigh it properly. To this end we test a recently enacted New Jersey instruction on eyewitness testimony. We find that jurors do not become more sensitive to low versus high evidence quality, but instead they discount the eyewitness testimony across the board. Across this inquiry, we deploy several novel tactics; in Chapter 5, for instance, we explore how continuous response measurement (CRM) can provide unique insights into the study of reasoning, and in particular how jurors parse trial evidence. We end in chapter 8 with a more general discussion of how behavioral science can be applied across law and policy.
Degree ProgramGraduate College