Of Innocence and Dissonance: Reviewing the Conviction-Prone Status of Death Qualified Juries from a Cognitive Dissonance Perspective
27 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2007
Date Written: April 2007
This work reviews the legal history of the death qualification in Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968) and Hovey v. Superior Court (1980) to introduce the tenets of the death qualification standard. Summaries of the prior social psychological criticism will be augmented by a discussion and integration of justice theory, criminal justice orientation, and personality. This work argues that a cognitive dissonance perspective may add to the debate regarding the conviction-prone status of death qualified juries. This review contends that the selection procedures for death qualification may create juries that hold attitudes that are contrary to the fundamental assumption of innocence presupposed by the court. As a result of this conflict between juror attitudes and the assumption of innocence, cognitive dissonance will occur and need to be resolved - resulting in a high rate of conviction. The empirical findings from juror studies support this dissonance interpretation of the conviction-prone status of death qualified juries.
Keywords: Death Qualification, Cognitive Dissonance
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