Publication Date

April 2019


Steven Stemler




English (United States)


The construct of implicit bias is well documented but has only recently gained attention for its potential role in perpetuating racial disparities in judicial outcomes. Some efforts have been made to mitigate the effects of implicit bias on juries’ decision-making through specialized jury instructions. However, empirical investigation evaluating the effect of the jury instruction amendment is lacking. The present study sought to fill this gap. Participants acting as mock jurors (N = 203) received either the new instruction that included the implicit bias commentary or the original instruction. Participants responded to three separate cases, in which defendant and victim race were randomized, offering a verdict and sentencing recommendation, along with responses to additional measures assessing participants’ perceptions of defendant culpability. Contrary to hypotheses, though in line with the only other known study investigating an implicit bias jury instruction amendment (Elek and Hannaford-Agor, 2014), the present study found no evidence of an influence of the new instruction on verdict, sentencing, or any additional outcomes. However, evidence was found for differences in case judgments based on participant race. Reasons for the lack of effect of instruction are discussed, along with suggestion for future interventions.



© Copyright is owned by author of this document