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Effects of Media Portrayal on Mock Jurors' Use of Deceptive Polygraph Evidence

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 43 Issue: 1 Dated: 2014 Pages: 30-37
Chelsea Lyle; Josh Karr; Ron A. Craig
Date Published
8 pages
This study examined mock jury decisions in four types of cases of varying severity and also variations in the presentation of evidence of a deceptive polygraph exam.
The four types of cases presented to the mock jurors were either driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving while using drugs, vehicular homicide, or divorce. The study found that only in the divorce case did jurors give significant weight to evidence of deception on a polygraph exam. Although the presence of polygraph evidence of deception impacted verdicts differently only for the divorce case, across all cases, those who voted guilty were more confident (on a five-point scale) in their verdicts when deceptive polygraph evidence was presented. More exposure of jurors to crime shows and shows that contain polygraph evidence did have an influence on participants' verdicts. One explanation for the impact on the verdict in only the divorce case type could be that many of the media programs where polygraph evidence has a dominant role (such as the Maury Povich Show) involve less serious and personal accusations. In such programs, the polygraph test is used as the ultimate decider of guilt. A second explanation of the finding could be that more severe offenses are taken seriously by jurors and the polygraph evidence is not sufficiently persuasive to remove reasonable doubt; however, it apparently adds a comforting degree of certainty for guilty verdicts based primarily on other types of evidence. Study participants were 151 undergraduates attending a university in Western Pennsylvania. Details of the study methodology are provided. 2 figures and 7 references