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Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of jury instructions that debunk common misconceptions versus standard instructions, with regards to verdict choice, comprehension of the legal standard, and reasoning used to support verdict decisions. A case summary was read by 159 participants who then listened to auditory instructions from a judge regarding the legal standards for second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. They then completed measures assessing verdict, comprehension, and reasoning. While the results revealed that the legal instructions did not influence participants’ verdicts or comprehension of the legal standard, the data suggests that participants may have relied upon their prototypes of the case to make their decisions.



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