Predicting jurors' decisions: The effects of repeated expression and forewarning in civil voir dire

Erin Michelle Danielsen, Florida International University


To help lawyers uncover jurors' attitudes and predict verdict, litigation experts recommend that attorneys encourage jurors to repeatedly express their attitudes during voir dire. While social cognitive literature has established that repeated expression of attitudes increases accessibility and behavior predictability, the persuasive twist on the method exercised in trials deserves empirical investigation. Only one study has examined the use of repeated expression within a legal context with the results finding that the tactic increased accessibility, but did not influence the attitude verdict relationship. This dissertation reexamines the ability of civil attitudes to predict verdict in a civil trial and investigates the use of repeated expression as a persuasive tactic utilized by both parties (Plaintiff and Defense) within a civil voir dire in an attempt to increase attitudinal strength, via accessibility, and change attitudes to better predict verdict. This project also explores potential moderators, repetition by the opposing party and the use of a forewarning, to determine their ability to counter the effects of repeated expression on attitudes and verdict.^ This dissertation project asked subjects to take on the role of jurors in a civil case. During the voir dire questioning session, the number of times the participants were solicited to express their attitudes towards litigation crisis by both parties was manipulated (one vs. five). Also manipulated was the inclusion of a forewarning statement from the plaintiff, within which mock jurors were cautioned about the repeated tactics that the defense may use to influence their attitudes. Subsequently, participants engaged in a response latency task which measured the accessibility of their attitudes towards various case-related issues. After reading a vignette of a fictitious personal injury case, participants rendered verdict decisions and responded to an attitude evaluation scale. Exploratory factor analyses, Probit regressions, and path analyses were used to analyze the data. Results indicated that the act of repeated expression influenced both the accessibility and value of litigation crisis attitudes thus increasing the attitude-verdict relationship, but only when only one party engaged in it. Furthermore, the forewarning manipulation did moderate the effect of repeated expression on attitude change and verdict, supporting our hypothesis.^

Subject Area

Law|Psychology, Social

Recommended Citation

Danielsen, Erin Michelle, "Predicting jurors' decisions: The effects of repeated expression and forewarning in civil voir dire" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3235927.