Graduation Year

2018

Date of Submission

4-2018

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Daniel Krauss, J.D., Ph.D.

Abstract

Death qualification is a problematic aspect of capital trials, as death qualified jurors have higher conviction rates than non-death qualified jurors. The current study examines whether the death qualification process itself affects juror decision-making via attitude salience effects.

Participants (n=90) recruited from the venire juror pool at the Santa Ana Superior Court were asked to read a trial transcript and decide guilt or innocence and whether they would sentence the defendant to death. Half of the participants were given a survey determining death qualification before they read the trial (making death qualification salient), while the other half were given the survey at the end of the study (not salient condition).

Although the results do not support the theory that the death qualification process biases jurors’ verdict and sentencing decisions, they do suggest that the proportion, attitudes, and demographics of non-death qualified jurors have changed substantially since initial research on death qualification was undertaken.

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