Faculty Cafe ~ Professor Cathy Crosby and Professor Mark Oakes, Psychology
Instructing the Law: Judges, Jurors and Gender
Cathy Crosby and Mark Oakes, Department of Psychology
April 7th ~ 4:00pm - 5:30pm ~ Sykes Common Room
Just as teachers must instruct their pupils, trial judges must instruct jurors. Most jurors have little to no background in the law, but their task is to apply the law to the evidence in the case. This tricky business of translating complex legal ideas for laypersons often confounds legislatures attempting to fashion model instructions. To increase the complexity of the endeavor, jurors may be either unable or disinclined to apply the instructions they do indeed understand. Basic cognitive processes may interfere with the juror’s ability to abide by the instruction—how does one simply forget something they have heard? But so might values that the juror holds—how does one ignore evidence that they think should be considered? And finally, contextual cues may affect the way that information is processed—might the gender of the judge affect the way instructions are received? These questions provide an area ripe for study by psychologists, who can help to uncover principles and processes of human thought to help the legal system achieve greater justice. In an on-going series of studies, we have been exploring ways that instructions by the judge might be altered to increase the likelihood that jurors will be both motivated to and successful in abiding by the instructions they are given.
These Friday events provide an opportunity to celebrate faculty members’ ongoing research and scholarly accomplishments. They provide time to relax at the end of the work week, catch up with old friends, and meet new people from across campus as you enjoy wine, beer, other drinks, and snacks. The Cafés and Book Publication Celebrations are a place for faculty to share their scholarly projects, in language accessible to the broad campus community, in the hopes that it will inspire lively discussion, helpful feedback and criticism, and possibly interest in future collaborations across disciplines. All faculty and staff are welcome at these events, and we encourage you to make them a regular part of your schedule. The Faculty Development Committee and the Academic Dean’s Office plan the Cafés and Book Celebrations, and the Center for Teaching and Learning and Corporate and Foundations Relations provide financial support.