The impact of misinformation presented during jury deliberation on juror memory and decision-making

Hayley J. Cullen*, Natali Dilevski, Faye T. Nitschke, Gianni Ribeiro, Shobanah Brind, Nikita Woolley

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

When deliberating, jurors may introduce misinformation that may influence other jurors’ memory and decision-making. In two studies, we explored the impact of misinformation exposure during jury deliberation. Participants in both studies read a transcript of an alleged sexual assault. In Study 1 (N = 275), participants encountered either consistent pro-prosecution misinformation, consistent pro-defense misinformation, or contradictory misinformation (pro-prosecution and pro-defense). In Study 2 (N = 339), prior to encountering either pro-prosecution or pro-defense misinformation while reading a jury deliberation transcript, participants either received or did not receive a judicial instruction about misinformation exposure during deliberation. Participants in both studies completed legal decision-making variables (e.g., defendant guilt rating) before and after deliberation, and their memory was assessed for misinformation acceptance via recall and source memory tasks. In Study 1, misinformation type did not influence legal decision-making, but pro-prosecution misinformation was more likely to be misattributed as trial evidence than pro-defense or contradictory misinformation. In Study 2, pro-defense misinformation was more likely to be misattributed to the trial than pro-prosecution misinformation, and rape myths moderated this. Furthermore, exposure to pro-defense misinformation skewed legal decision-making towards the defense’s case. However, the judicial instruction about misinformation exposure did not influence memory or decision-making. Together, these findings suggest that misinformation in jury deliberations may distort memory for trial evidence and bias decision-making, highlighting the need to develop effective safeguards for reducing the impact of misinformation in trial contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1232228
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2024. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • juries
  • legal decision-making
  • memory
  • misinformation
  • jury deliberation

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