Tucker, Charles O.||McGlone, Edward Leon, 1941-||Dallinger, Carl A.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Speech
The purpose of this study was to investigate a dimension of source credibility which effects jury decision making in a personal injury case. Criminal record was selected as the variable for investigation. Two versions of a personal injury case were constructed; in each version of the case conflicting testimony between plaintiff and defendant was employed. In Version I, the plaintiff was characterized as having a criminal record, and in Version II of the same case the defendant was given the criminal record. The dependent variable in the experiment was the response of subjects as measured by a test of credibility. The test was developed by quoting the testimony of both the plaintiff and defendant. For each quoted statement subjects were asked to indicate by a true or false response whether they believed or disbelieved the plaintiff or the defendant. Subjects were analyzed on the basis of sex. The independent variable was the criminal record of the plaintiff or defendant. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) The means of the population's ratings of plaintiff and defendant with a criminal record will be identical to the means of the population's ratings of plaintiff or defendant without a criminal record in a personal injury case. Based on an analysis of variance obtained by the responses to a true-false test of 52 subjects in freshman composition classes at the University of North Dakota during the winter, 1968, no significant differences were found at the .05 level of significance. This hypothesis was retained. (2) The means of ratings of major witnesses in a personal injury case by women will be identical to the means of ratings of major witnesses by men. Based on an analysis of variance obtained by the responses to a true-false test of 52 people in freshman composition classes at the University of North Dakota during the winter, 1968, no significant differences were found at the .05 level. This hypothesis was retained. In addition to the above hypotheses, two research questions were posed. (1) Will subjects base their decisions on bias more frequently than on facts of the case? Based upon the responses of 52 subjects (as interpreted by two scorers) to an open-ended questionnaire which asked that subjects give reasons for believing or disbelieving a plaintiff or defendant, decisions according to bias occurred only two per cent more frequently than decisions according to fact. (2) Will subjects list criminal record as a basis for believing or disbelieving the plaintiff or defendant more frequently than other reasons? Based upon the responses of 52 subjects to an open-ended questionnaire which asked that subjects give reasons for believing or disbelieving a plaintiff or defendant, criminal record was listed more frequently than any other particular reason but less frequently than all other reasons combined. The study indicates that although jurors do not react more or less favorably to a plaintiff or defendant with a criminal record, they do, however, list criminal record as a basis for belief or disbelief of the plaintiff or defendant more frequently than any other reason.
Baker, Troy T., "A dimension of source credibility which affects jury decision making in personal injury cases" (1968). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 286.
vi, 56 pages
Northern Illinois University
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