by: Dr. Kevin Boully
By nearly all accounts, jurors do an excellent job listening to evidence, evaluating all the information presented at trial, and rendering reasonable verdicts. But jurors are human (you can quote me on that), and we humans are emotional animals. We simply cannot make efficient decisions without our emotions.
It’s no secret that inherent biases influence jurors’ perceptions in court. Jurors selectively attend to arguments and evidence. They engage in motivated reasoning – reasoning designed to create a good-feeling equilibrium between conflicting information and emotional preferences. In short, most of us are wired to make decisions that feel best, and our brains are wired to reward this behavior. Jurors do this every day, in every case, in big ways and in small.
Now, pair the influence of that powerful emotional decision-making (which may not reflect a rational process) with what we know about the persuasive power of jury leaders.