Drawing Upon Your Knowledge of Theories and Research in Person Perception, Discuss Some Factors That May Influence Juries in Courtroom Trials.

Drawing upon your knowledge of theories and research in person perception, discuss some factors that may influence juries in courtroom trials.

For many years social psychologists have had a great interest in how human beings process information, how they make inferences and decisions about the behaviours and motivations of others, and also how events are interpreted and perceived.   According to Nisbett & Ross, (1985, cited in Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, Bem & Hilgard, 1990) people do this rather like informal scientists.   Data is observed and collected, judgements are then made about what information fits with other existing information and finally an attempt is made to evaluate the cause of an event happening.   These informal theories according to Atkinson et al, (1990) work quite well most of the time, however they contain a number of systematic errors and the resulting social judgement can sometimes be faulty.   The authors go on to note that these informal theories are often found to interfere with accurate information processing.   Interference from pre-existing information can affect the way that new information is shaped or perceived, it can also distort the estimates of what goes with what, and it can bias the evaluations of cause and effect.   In everyday life, errors such as these do not have great importance. However one area where accurate information processing is highly important is in a jury situation.  

  It is the role of a juror to listen to evidence and evaluate the facts to determine whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime with which they have been charged.   However, this is an unfamiliar role for most people and authors such as Aronson, Wilson & Arket, (1994) have suggested that when people find themselves in an unfamiliar situation such as this, they may elicit the use of pre-existing schemas and scripts in order to make sense of the situation which they find themselves in.  

Heuristics such as this are a frequently...