The Influence of Limiting Instructions on Processing and Judgments of Emotionally Evocative Evidence

Rachel K Cush, Jane Goodman-Delahunty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most jury instructions are issued after all the evidence has been presented in a trial; however, some are given during the trial. When gruesome photographs form part of the evidence in criminal culpability proceedings, the judge will usually instruct jurors to be dispassionate in examining the evidence. This study investigated whether time of presentation affects the ability of limiting instructions to cure the potentially prejudicial effects of gruesome photographic evidence by measuring the emotions, cognitions and verdicts of 108 mock jurors in a simulated murder trial. Pre-instructed participants processed evidence in the defendant's favour and rendered significantly fewer convictions than did post-instructed participants and those who received no limiting instructions. Gruesome photographs did not bias processing of other items in evidence or verdicts, although they elicited significantly greater victim compassion and crime negativity than did neutral photographs. Results suggest that jury instructions are more conducive to compliance when presented early in the evidence-processing task than when presented late.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-123
Number of pages14
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Volume13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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