Stereotypes and the decisions juries make

Dr Blake McKimmie from the University of Queensland won the prize for the best poster at the Society’s Annual Conference in London last week. Blake received £100 in book tokens for his work, carried out with fellow researchers from York and Queensland, on “The use of stereotypes in juror decision-making”.

Previous research has suggested that mock jurors typically use stereotypes to help themarrive at a verdict. So defendants who do not fit mock jurors’ expectations about offenders, such as women, often receive preferential treatment.

In his winning poster Blake explored the influence of being counterstereotypical and demonstrated, through four experiments, that the use of stereotypes by mock jurors is more subtle than previously thought. Rather than being cognitive misers who stick to rigid stereotypes, mock jurors appear to be cognitive optimisers who use stereotypes to extract the as much information as is possible about a case.