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Title: Juror Perceptions of Forensic Evidence
Authors: McPhee, Kyla C.
Issue Date: 2012
Citation: McPhee, K.C. (2012). Juror Perceptions of Forensic Evidence (Unpublished undergraduate honours thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
Abstract: This study investigated whether potential jurors are aware of the limited validity of most types of forensic evidence. Three hundred and nine undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of twelve conditions (control, confession, hair microscopy, fingerprint, fingerprint- revised, DNA, DNA-revised, forensic odontology, criminal profiling, decompositional odour, shoe print, and soil analysis). Participants read a case vignette outlining a mock homicide that differed only in the type of evidence that was presented. Participants then filled out a questionnaire reporting their verdict decisions, perceptions of the importance of the evidence in reaching the verdict decision, and reliability of the evidence (among other judgments). It was found that the type of evidence presented significantly affected verdict decisions. Furthermore, many types of unvalidated forensic evidence were perceived to be as reliable as DNA evidence. These findings suggest that mock jurors are unaware of the limited validity of most types of forensic evidence. This study stimulates the need for more thorough testing of the probative value of evidence and the inclusion of expert testimony in court.
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