Portions of this research were presented at the meeting of the American Psychology–Law Society in 2009.
Effects of Neuroimaging Evidence on Mock Juror Decision Making†
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Current Directions
Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 280–296, May/June 2012
How to Cite
Greene, E. and Cahill, B. S. (2012), Effects of Neuroimaging Evidence on Mock Juror Decision Making. Behav. Sci. Law, 30: 280–296. doi: 10.1002/bsl.1993
We thank Brian Yochim for providing portions of the neuropsychological and neuroscience evidence and Ryan Winter for helpful comments on methodology.
- Issue published online: 4 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2011
During the penalty phase of capital trials, defendants may introduce mitigating evidence that argues for a punishment “less than death.” In the past few years, a novel form of mitigating evidence—brain scans made possible by technological advances in neuroscience—has been proffered by defendants to support claims that brain abnormalities reduce their culpability. This exploratory study assessed the impact of neuroscience evidence on mock jurors' sentencing recommendations and impressions of a capital defendant. Using actual case facts, we manipulated diagnostic evidence presented by the defense (psychosis diagnosis; diagnosis and neuropsychological test results; or diagnosis, test results, and neuroimages) and future dangerousness evidence presented by the prosecution (low or high risk). Recommendations for death sentences were affected by the neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence: defendants deemed at high risk for future dangerousness were less likely to be sentenced to death when jurors had this evidence than when they did not. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence also had mitigating effects on impressions of the defendant. We describe study limitations and pose questions for further research. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.