This research was funded through a General Research Fund grant (No. 3471) from the University of Kansas to Lawrence S. Wrightsman. The authors wish to thank Rick Keller for serving as experimenter for this study, and Jeff Greenberg and Saul Kassin for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.
The Effects of Opening Statements on Mock Jurors' Verdicts in a Simulated Criminal Trial1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 11, Issue 4, pages 301–313, August 1981
How to Cite
Pyszczynski, T. A. and Wrightsman, L. S. (1981), The Effects of Opening Statements on Mock Jurors' Verdicts in a Simulated Criminal Trial. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11: 301–313. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1981.tb00826.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Twenty-nine male and 37 female adults served as mock jurors in a simulated criminal trial in which the amount of preview offered in both the prosecution's and defense's opening statements was factorially varied. It was found that the effects upon verdicts of guilt of the amount of preview in either side's opening statement depended on that in the other side's opening statement. Extensive prosecution opening statements led to more guilty verdicts only when the de fense's opening statement was also extensive; when the defense's opening statement was brief, participants tended to find the defendant guilty regardless of the amount of preview in the prosecution's opening statement. Extensive opening statements from the defense led to more not-guilty verdicts only when the prosecution's opening statement was brief. Results from a series of mid-trial measures indicated that opening statements predisposed jurors to favor one side or the other very early in the trial, and that jurors tended to maintain this predisposition throughout the course of the trial. It was suggested that opening statements serve to create thematic frameworks which the jurors use to assist them in their processing of trial information. Implications for legal practice were also discussed.