Negative pretrial publicity and juror verdicts: testing the demand characteristics hypothesis

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gregory Pearce (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Bryan Myers

Abstract: Two studies were conducted to investigate if demand characteristics could explain the relation between increased guilty verdicts and negative pretrial publicity. The purpose of study 1 is to show that when we keep demand characteristics constant between levels of pretrial publicity, but vary the degree of pretrial publicity, guilt judgments differ between the control and negative pretrial publicity groups, but the two levels of negative pretrial publicity do not differ. A total of 172 university undergraduates participated in this study and were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Participants read a mock trial transcript, along with mock newspaper articles, and rendered verdicts, beliefs about study intent and completed Gudjonsson’s Compliance Scale. The results indicated, contrary to what was hypothesized, guilt judgments did not vary according to a demand characteristics model. That is, the two NPTP groups did not differ significantly from the control group on guilt judgments. The purpose of study 2 was to show that if we keep negative pretrial publicity constant but vary the demand characteristics, guilt judgments will vary across conditions. A total of 192 university undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (control, NPTP, DC Guilty, DC not guilty). Participants read the identical trial transcript as study 1, as well as the weak NPTP condition mock newspaper articles in study 1 (for all conditions but control). In addition, participants completed Gudjonsson’s measure of compliance and rendered verdicts along with study intent ratings. The results again revealed findings inconsistent with a demand characteristics model. Here, none of the four groups differed significantly from one another

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Fair trial--United States, Free press and fair trial--United States, Jury--United States--Decision making, Trials--United States, Verdicts--Research--United States
Verdicts -- Research -- United States
Jury -- United States -- Decision making
Trials -- United States
Trials -- United States
Fair trial -- United States
Free press and fair trial -- United States

Email this document to