Title

The Effects of Complexity on Jurors' Verdicts and the Construction of the Evidence

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2001

Publication Source

Journal of Applied Psychology

Volume

86

Issue

4

Inclusive pages

641-652

DOI

10.1037/0021-9010.86.4.641

Abstract

One hundred twenty mock jurors heard 1 of several versions of a civil trial. The tort trial was either high or low in information load and contained evidence that either clearly favored the plaintiffs or was ambiguous. Expert witnesses testified in either technical or less technical language. Verdicts favored the plaintiffs when the evidence was clear and was presented in technical language because technical language enhanced witnesses' credibility when the evidence was clear. Although high information loads and technical language hindered evidence processing, jurors endeavored to comprehend, as indicated by the recall of more facts and alternative constructions of the evidence when that evidence was ambiguous. However, those constructions were of poorer quality, incorporating evidence of lesser probative value.

Keywords

civil trials, mock juries, expert testimony, expert credibility, evidence, juror comprehension, social influence, technical terminology, information load

Disciplines

Psychology

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