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Discussion Polarization Effects in a Modified Jury Decision Paradigm: Informational Influences

Martin F. Kaplan
Sociometry
Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1977), pp. 262-271
DOI: 10.2307/3033533
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033533
Page Count: 10
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Discussion Polarization Effects in a Modified Jury Decision Paradigm: Informational Influences
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Abstract

Judgments by individual group members typically become more extreme following discussion of an issue having some prevailing value for the judgment. For example, judgments of a guilty-appearing defendant shift toward greater guilt following discussion. In three experiments, jurors first heard an incriminating or exonerating trial, then discussed it by exchanging notes with bogus discussants. Over experiments, bogus notes varied (1) the incriminating appearance of shared facts, (2) the redundancy of shared facts, (3) the number of bogus jurors, and (4) the prediscussion judgments of bogus jurors. Where the incriminating/exonerating proportion of facts was the opposite of both the trial incriminating/exonerating appearance and the facts cited by the subject, postdiscussion judgment shifted away from extremity. Where proportion matched the subject's, judgment became more extreme, but less so when shared facts were redundant. Neither the number of bogus discussants nor their communicated judgments had an effect. Informational influences therefore better accounted for postdicussion judgment shifts than did conformity to other's positions.

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