On the decision to testify in one's behalf: Effects of evidence withholding, defendant's sexual preference, and juror dogmatism on juridic decisions

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology






360 undergraduates high or low in dogmatism served as members of 6-person juries that assessed the culpability of a homosexual or heterosexual defendant in a murder trial. Defendants either (a) invoked the 5th Amendment in response to specific crime-relevant interrogation, (b) invoked the 5th Amendment by opting not to take the witness stand, or (c) took the stand and provided substantive answers for all crime-relevant interrogation. Results indicate that defendants who invoked the 5th Amendment (either on the stand or by declining to take the stand) were judged more likely to be guilty and more deserving of conviction than their counterparts who took the stand and answered all questions. As anticipated, juror dogmatism interacted with the defendant's sexual preferences to affect juridic decisions. However, the form of these interactions were contrary to expectations: High dogmatic jurors were no more punitive toward homosexual than heterosexual defendants, whereas jurors low in dogmatism were actually more lenient toward homosexual than heterosexual defendants. An explanation for the leniency of nondogmatic jurors toward homosexual defendants is proposed, and some implications of this line of reasoning for future research are discussed.