Lilley, Caroline Jo (2021) Juror Decision-making within Intimate Partner Rape: Examining the relationship between Modern Rape Myth Beliefs, Legal Attitudes and Personality Traits upon Verdict Decisions. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

For many, being judged by a group of legally untrained, lay individuals, determining guilt based on evidence heard at trial, is thought to make for fairer verdict outcomes. Whilst some prefer lay participation in the trial process, criticism continues to grow concerning the unpredictability of lay decisions in delivering justice. Naturally, where different jurors draw opposing conclusions despite having observed the same criminal trial, verdict decisions are likely impacted by more than testimony and trial evidence alone. In fact, low rates of conviction for rape allegations considered alongside several high-profile rape trials that resulted in acquittals, have led some legal scholars and social scientists to question how fair and reliable juries may be. The overarching objective of the current thesis was therefore to examine the relationship between mock juror characteristics and verdicts returned within the context of an intimate partner rape trial, a case type often overlooked in previous research. Specifically, to investigate the role of modern rape myth beliefs, varying legal attitudes, psychopathic personality traits and juror demographics upon individual determinations of guilt, within two separate methodologically robust mock trial experiments. In experiment one, 435 participants were opportunistically recruited and took part in an online mock trial experiment. Participants completed a series of cross-sectional questionnaires, before being exposed to a video-taped rape trial reconstruction where they were asked to decide upon the defendant’s guilt. In experiment two, 108 participants comprised within nine separate jury panels were opportunistically recruited to take part in in-person mock trial reconstructions. Participants again completed a series of questionnaires and were shown the same videotaped mock trial reconstruction from experiment one, before deliberating as a group to reach a collective verdict as well as indicating their individual verdict preference, both pre- and postdeliberation. Results of experiment one found that rape myth acceptance, social justice, ethnicity and educational attainment were significant predictors of verdict decisions. Results of experiment two found that rape myth acceptance and juror ethnicity were significant predictors of verdict decisions pre-deliberation. Rape myth acceptance, ethnicity, previous sexual victimisation and affective responsiveness were significant predictors of verdict decisions post-deliberation. These findings strongly support the assertion that within rape trials, juror decisions are directly related to the attitudes and psychological constructs jurors bring to trial. The evidence of such relationships between final verdict decisions and a juror’s psychological make-up has important implications for policy and practice including, the potential need for juror screening pre-trial within English rape trials.

Lilley THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email