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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Gary N. Howells

First Committee Member

Kenneth L. Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Roger C. Katz


It is becoming commonplace for video technology of various forms to be utilized in modern courtrooms. However, little research exists on how the use of videos in the courtroom influences jury decision making. Studies on this topic could lead to greater understanding of the mechanisms by which jurors arrive at their decisions. For example, jurors are instructed not to let emotional factors impact their decisions, yet attorneys often appeal to a juror's conscience rather than his or her intellect in trying to win a case.

In order to examine these issues, the present study attempted to answer two main questions. First, does video footage influence jurors more than traditional oral testimony? Second, if video evidence does have a strong impact on juror decisions, what are the mechanisms by which this occurs? Participants examined actual materials from a civil case presented in one of three formats: print (transcripts), traditional oral testimony, or traditional testimony plus audiovisual recreation. They were given the Profile of Mood States (POMS) as a pre-and post-test measure of emotional state. Furthermore, they were tested on retention of factual material and asked to designate damage awards as well as responsibility levels of both the plaintiff and defendant in the case. Results indicated that a number of changes in mood state occurred following stimulus presentation, regardless of the stimulus presentation mode or gender of the subject. The five POMS scales on which this pattern appeared were the Depression-Dejection scale, the Fatigue-Inertia scale, the Anger-Hostility scale, the Vigor-Activity scale, and the Total Mood Disturbance scale.



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