Juror need for cognition and sensitivity to methodological flaws in expert evidence
Two studies investigated the influence of juror need for cognition on the systematic and heuristic processing of expert evidence. U.S. citizens reporting for jury duty in South Florida read a 15-page summary of a hostile work environment case containing expert testimony. The expert described a study she had conducted on the effects of viewing sexualized materials on men's behavior toward women. Certain methodological features of the expert's research varied across experimental conditions. In Study 1 (N = 252), the expert's study was valid, contained a confound, or included the potential for experimenter bias (internal validity) and relied on a small or large sample (sample size) of college undergraduates or trucking employees (ecological validity). When the expert's study included trucking employees, high need for cognition jurors in Study 1 rated the expert more credible and trustworthy than did low need for cognition jurors. Jurors were insensitive to variations in the study's internal validity or sample size. Juror ratings of plaintiff credibility, plaintiff trustworthiness, and study quality were positively correlated with verdict. In Study 2 (N = 162), the expert's published or unpublished study (general acceptance) was either valid or lacked an appropriate control group (internal validity) and included a sample of college undergraduates or trucking employees (ecological validity). High need for cognition jurors in Study 2 found the defendant liable more often and evaluated the expert evidence more favorably when the expert's study was internally valid than when an appropriate control group was missing. Low need for cognition jurors did not differentiate between the internally valid and invalid study. Variations in the study's general acceptance and ecological validity did not affect juror judgments. Juror ratings of expert and plaintiff credibility, plaintiff trustworthiness, and study quality were positively correlated with verdict. The present research demonstrated that the need for cognition moderates juror sensitivity to expert evidence quality and that certain message-related heuristics influence juror judgments when ability or motivation to process systematically is low. ^
Bradley David McAuliff,
"Juror need for cognition and sensitivity to methodological flaws in expert evidence"
(January 1, 2000).
ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU.