On Racial Diversity and Group Decision Making: Identifying Multiple Effects of Racial Composition on Jury Deliberations

Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 05/2006; 90(4):597-612. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.90.4.597
Source: PubMed


This research examines the multiple effects of racial diversity on group decision making. Participants deliberated on the trial of a Black defendant as members of racially homogeneous or heterogeneous mock juries. Half of the groups were exposed to pretrial jury selection questions about racism and half were not. Deliberation analyses supported the prediction that diverse groups would exchange a wider range of information than all-White groups. This finding was not wholly attributable to the performance of Black participants, as Whites cited more case facts, made fewer errors, and were more amenable to discussion of racism when in diverse versus all-White groups. Even before discussion, Whites in diverse groups were more lenient toward the Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange. The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency toward a Black defendant.

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    • "For example, information coming from out-group members (i.e., minorities) is often considered with greater interest than information from in-group members (i.e., majorities) (e.g. Antonio et al., 2004; Kane, 2010; Kane, Argote, & Levine, 2005; Phillips, Northcraft, & Neale, 2006; Sommers, 2006). In addition, group members engage in more perspective taking and divergent thinking in the presence of others who hold a different opinion (Gruenfeld, Thomas-Hunt, & Kim, 1998; Nemeth, 1992). "
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    • "Finally, scholars should expand work on potential interventions to reduce the influence of race and ethnicity on judgments of defendants and to promote the full participation of jurors from all backgrounds. Research discussed in this review provides insights into possible interventions ; for example, increasing jury diversity (Sommers 2006) and the salience of racial bias (Sommers & Ellsworth 2001) should lead to more fair trial outcomes. In addition, social psychological research offers strategies for reducing bias that may be applied to legal contexts, such as exposing jurors to positive, counterstereotypical examples of racial and ethnic minorities (Kang et al. 2012). "
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    • "Second, both majority and minority individuals in diverse groups consider more information and process that information more deeply and accurately (Apfelbaum, Phillips, & Richeson, 2014; Crisp & Turner, 2011; Phillips & Loyd, 2006). For instance, experimental evidence shows that ethnically diverse juries consider more perspectives and make fewer inaccurate statements than homogeneous juries (Sommers, 2006). In addition, people who anticipate joining ethnically or politically diverse groups process the information that will be discussed in the group more thoroughly (Loyd, Wang, Phillips, & Lount, 2013; Sommers, Warp, & Mahoney, 2008) and write more cognitively complex postdiscussion summaries (Antonio et al., 2004). "
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