Public Release: 

Gender and demographic differences are poor predictors of juror satisfaction

Both men and women reported an emotional jury experience

Wiley

Seattle, WA - June 25, 2008 - A new study in the journal Communication Theory explored the impact of gender, demographic differences, and emotion on the experience of jury deliberation. Researchers found that neither gender nor demographic characteristics affected juror satisfaction with overall service experience. Both men and women reported experiencing emotions during their trials.

John Gastil of the University of Washington in Seattle administered surveys to over 3,000 jurors who served in local courthouses in Washington State. Women comprised essentially half of the sample. Jurors were questioned about their satisfaction with their courthouse experience. Andrea Hickerson used this data for analysis.

Neither cultural nor status differentials appear to affect individuals' evaluations of the jury experience, as measured in terms of satisfaction with the deliberation, the verdict, treatment by other jurors, and overall service. Even when gender is compounded by other status differentials such as race, education, and work status, there was no clear pattern of difference in the subjective assessment of jury deliberation.

The overwhelming majority of both men and women consistently reported an emotional jury experience, regardless of jury and trial characteristics. Emotion appears to figure into the jury deliberation experience independent of individual differences and other variables surrounding the trial.

"Our findings suggest that concerns that deliberation inherently privileges men over women and reason at the expense of emotion are likely incorrect, at least in the context of one's subjective experience of jury deliberation," the authors conclude. "Our results challenge deliberation's critics to find compelling examples of difference effects in well-structured and consequential deliberative spaces."

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This study is published in the journal Communication Theory. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Andrea Hickerson is affiliated with the University of Washington in Seattle and can be reached for questions at andrea3@u.washington.edu.

Communication Theory is an international forum publishing high quality, original research into the theoretical development of communication from across a wide array of disciplines, such as communication studies, sociology, psychology, political science, cultural and gender studies, philosophy, linguistics, and literature. Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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