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Graphic Evidence of Violence: The Impact on Juror Decision-Making, the Influence of Judicial Instructions and the Effect of Juror Biases

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The potential prejudicial impact of graphic evidence of violence (GEV) on juror decision-making has evoked concerns for defendants' due process rights. One hundred and twenty-eight student mock jurors were randomly allocated a murder trial summary containing either the presence or absence of GEV and either graphic-specific judicial instructions or standard judicial instructions. This study also explored potential emotive mechanisms underlying the proposed effect of GEV, including the Affect Infusion Model (AIM) and action tendencies. While the manipulations of GEV and judicial instructions were successful, neither the presence of GEV nor the inclusion of graphic-specific judicial instructions impacted upon mock juror verdicts. However, mock juror biases interacted with GEV to influence conviction thresholds, whereby the conviction thresholds of defence-biased mock jurors were higher in the presence of GEV. Furthermore, the presence of GEV resulted in mock jurors experiencing more stress upon reading the trial evidence. The study concluded that the proposed biasing effect of GEV was not supported by the research findings. The implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Griffith University, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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