Date of Conferral
Previous research has demonstrated how different forms of media, such as news, television, and music, can affect an individual's perceptions and attitudes. However, little research exists on how these effects may have an impact in the courtroom beyond pre-trial publicity. This could pose a threat to the constitutional right of a fair trial; and understanding this threat may be vital to impartiality in the trial process. Using cultivation theory and the CSI effect as a theoretical basis, this study examined how attitudes toward, and perceptions about, mock trial vignettes were affected by exposure to entertainment media in the form of film. A posttest only, randomized experimental design was employed. One-hundred-fifty-nine participants were recruited through social media based on their eligibility for jury duty and were then exposed to (a) a film about crime, (b) a neutral film about the human body, or (c) no film and then presented with 3 criminal trial scenarios and asked to rate their perceptions about the defendant, the severity of the crime, and the defendant's guilt. The vignettes produced 3 separate scores for each participant and the resulting data were analyzed using 3 separate one-way ANOVAs. Results of the study failed to show significant effects. This study may assist future researchers investigating this phenomenon by providing insight into the dimensional limitations of this phenomenon. For the everyday media consumer, this research contributes to the body of knowledge that helps to keep people informed of the many ways media can influence an individual's perceptions, attitudes, and ultimately, their decisions, which is vital to reducing the impact of biases created by an uncontrolled flow of selective, and at times inaccurate, information.