All Together Now: Using Principles of Group Dynamics to Train Better Jurors
45 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2014 Last revised: 19 Feb 2015
Date Written: 2015
We ask juries to make important decisions that have a profound impact on people’s lives. We leave these decisions in the hands of groups of laypeople because we hope that the diverse range of experiences and knowledge in the group will lead to more thoughtful and informed decisionmaking. Studies suggest that diverse groups of jurors have different perspectives on evidence, engage in more thorough debate, and more closely evaluate facts. At the same time, there are a variety of problems associated with group decisionmaking, from the loss of individual motivation in group settings, to the vulnerability of groups to various cognitive biases and errors. Moreover, jurors are often at a disadvantage because most of them have never served on a jury and many of them have never worked with a group to reach a decision about a complex problem. Compounding these issues, jurors are not typically given instructions or training on working in a group or on effective decisionmaking strategies.
Although there is an extensive literature examining juries and jury deliberations, “All Together Now” is the first law journal article to consider all of the major scientific studies that examine training in group decisionmaking and apply them to jury decisionmaking. Many studies have examined group processes and group deliberations in the fields of social psychology, organizational psychology, business administration, advertising, and a variety of related areas. Moreover, countless studies examine group decisionmaking and recommend the use of training to improve group performance. Yet almost none of this interdisciplinary knowledge of group dynamics and the efficacy of training on group performance have been applied to one of the most fundamental group decisionmaking bodies — the jury. We can use this literature to create effective juror training procedures and give jurors strategies to more effectively deliberate and reach better group decisions.
Keywords: law and psychology, jurisprudence, law and society, cognitive psychology, litigation, juries, motivated cognition, group dynamics, group decisionmaking
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