The authors would like to thank Richard Lalonde and an anonymous reviewer at the journal for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The research was conducted while the first and third authors were supported by research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Jurors' Decisions in Trials of Battered Women Who Kill: The Role of Prior Beliefs and Expert Testimony1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 316–337, February 1994
How to Cite
Schuller, R. A., Smith, V. L. and Olson, J. M. (1994), Jurors' Decisions in Trials of Battered Women Who Kill: The Role of Prior Beliefs and Expert Testimony. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24: 316–337. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1994.tb00585.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
The present research explored the influence of four factors on mock jurors' decisions in a homicide trial involving a battered woman who killed her abusive husband: (a) jurors' preexisting beliefs about wife abuse, (b) the presence of expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome, (c) jurors' beliefs in a just world, and (d) gender. Mock jurors listened to a trial involving a woman who had killed her abuser, which either contained expert testimony or did not, and then rendered various judgments about the case. Results indicated that those individuals who were more informed about the dynamics of abuse and those exposed to the expert testimony, compared to their respective counterparts, were more believing of the battered woman's account of what occurred. In general, weak believers in a just world were more lenient in their judgments, with verdicts of not guilty being associated with weaker beliefs in a just world than guilty verdicts. Weak believers in a just world also felt that the expert testimony applied more to the defendant than did strong believers. Finally, women who were weak believers in a just world were less likely to hold the defendant responsible for the events and to be more informed about the dynamics of abuse following the experiment.