Influences of Destructive Personality Information on Decision Making1

Authors


  • 1

    The authors would like to thank Michelle Maher.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert Holt, Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444.

Abstract

This study examined the effects of information about a landlord's personality on juror judgments for a landlord-tenant civil trial. The personality information manipulated was specifically relevant to destructive acts. Alternative versions of witness testimony were used to describe a landlord either high or low on need for power. treating people as objects, and negative life themes. This information strongly influenced aspects of the schema for this case constructed by the individual mock jurors. Destructive personality information caused dislike of the landlord and lowered the credibility of his story. If the landlord treated people as objects, the credibility of the tenant's story and positive evaluations of the tenant increased. Juror judgments about relative fault were strongly shifted by destructive personality information. An empirical model for juror decisions indicated a dynamic interplay of story components and fault judgments.

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