The CSI Effect and the impact of DNA evidence on mock jurors and jury deliberations

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Abstract

The present research examined the CSI Effect and the impact of DNA evidence on mock jurors and jury deliberations using a 3 (Crime Drama Viewing: low, moderate, high) × 3 (Evidence: DNA innocent, DNA guilty, no DNA control) design. A sample of 178 jury-eligible college students read a case of breaking and entering. Pre-deliberation, some support for a CSI Effect was found with high viewers’ extent of guilt ratings significantly lower than moderate and low viewers’ in the no DNA control and the DNA innocent conditions. This effect was not present for verdicts. Contrary to a CSI Effect, crime drama viewing was not related to guilt judgments with incriminating DNA evidence. A content analysis of comments made during deliberations found little support for the CSI Effect entering the jury room. Specifically, CSI Effect predictions were not supported when examining the discussion of DNA evidence, expressing DNA opinions, or mentioning missing evidence. Overall, the limited CSI Effect found for individuals was attenuated during deliberation. The alarm raised over a possible CSI Effect influencing jury decision making may be unwarranted.

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Klentz, B. A., Winters, G. M., & Chapman, J. E. (2020). The CSI Effect and the impact of DNA evidence on mock jurors and jury deliberations. Psychology, Crime and Law, 26(6), 552–570. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2019.1708353

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