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Effect of Mode of Adjudication, Presence of Defense Counsel, and Favorability of Verdict on Observers' Evaluation of a Criminal Trial1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 11, Issue 4, pages 281–300, August 1981
How to Cite
Austin, W., Williams, T. A., Worchel, S., Wentzel, A. A. and Siegel, D. (1981), Effect of Mode of Adjudication, Presence of Defense Counsel, and Favorability of Verdict on Observers' Evaluation of a Criminal Trial. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11: 281–300. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1981.tb00825.x
Work on this project was supported in part by a Russell Sage Foundation law and social science residency fellowship to the first author.
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
In an experimental simulation, observers evaluated one of four different legal procedures in the presence of either a favorable or unfavorable outcome in a video-taped reenactment of a criminal trial. The procedures were adversarial, inquisitorial, adversarial without lawyer, and adversarial with plea bargaining. Data were gathered on the fairness and perceived satisfaction of the defendant with the final outcome, and quality of the defense and prosecution. Contrary to previous research, results showed that the several different procedures were seen as equally fair and legitimate, which suggests that how a procedure is implemented may be more important than its structural properties in observers' overall evaluations. It was also found that defendants are seen as least satisfied when the ostensibly fairest procedure (eg, adversarial) yields an unfavorable outcome. This finding supports a frustration interpretation and contradicts previous studies which report adversarial to be the most preferred dispute resolution procedure within all outcome conditions.