On Racial Diversity and Group Decision-Making: Identifying Multiple Effects of Racial Composition on Jury Deliberations

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 90, pp. 597-612, 2006

16 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2006  

Samuel R. Sommers

Tufts University - Department of Psychology

Abstract

This research examines the multiple effects of racial diversity on group decision-making. Participants deliberated on the trial of a Black defendant as members of racially homogeneous or heterogeneous mock juries. Half of the groups were exposed to pretrial jury selection questions about racism and half were not. Deliberation analyses supported the prediction that diverse groups would exchange a wider range of information than all-White groups. This finding was not wholly attributable to the performance of Black participants, as Whites cited more case facts, made fewer errors, and were more amenable to discussion of racism when in diverse versus all-White groups. Even before discussion, Whites in diverse groups were more lenient towards the Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange. The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency towards a Black defendant.

Keywords: diversity, group processes, jury racial composition, jury deliberations, voir dire

Suggested Citation

Sommers, Samuel R., On Racial Diversity and Group Decision-Making: Identifying Multiple Effects of Racial Composition on Jury Deliberations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 90, pp. 597-612, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=940788

Samuel R. Sommers (Contact Author)

Tufts University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

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