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Identifying and measuring juror pre-trial bias for forensic evidence: development and validation of the Forensic Evidence Evaluation Bias Scale

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Abstract:

Previous research has provided support for the impact of juror pre-trial bias on judicial decision making, particularly in cases where the evidence presented at trial is of weak or ambiguous probative value. In an effort to identify whether a pre-trial bias for forensic evidence exists, the Forensic Evidence Evaluation Bias Scale (FEEBS) was developed and tested. The results of a principal components analysis suggested that two distinct constructs were being measured, corresponding to a pro-prosecution and pro-defence bias toward forensic evidence. In a second validation study, scores on these two subscales were compared with other existing juror bias measures (Juror Bias Scale and Belief in a Just World) and in a mock juror decision making task only the pro-prosecution subscale of the FEEBS predicted the perceived strength of forensic evidence. A partial mediation model is presented which explains the relationship between this bias and verdict preferences. The implications of this potential juror bias are discussed in the context of real juries, the CSI Effect (which refers to anecdotal claims that jurors are biased by the popularity of fictional representations of forensic science on television) and peremptory challenges, as well as future research directions.

Keywords: decision making; evidence; forensic science; juries; juror bias

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2011.561800

Affiliations: 1: Department of Criminology,University of Leicester, Leicester, UK 2: Department of Psychology, Forensic Section,University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Publication date: 2012-10-01

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