Although police, lawyers, judges, and even some community members believe that CSI-type shows have seriously affected the criminal justice system (termed the CSI effect), empirical research has not demonstrated a link between crime television viewing and verdicts. However, the literature has established that higher frequencies of crime television viewing are associated with increased expectations of evidence, different attitudes toward evidence types, and varying self-reported levels of understanding of scientific evidence. The present study sought to extend our understanding of the influence of crime television on attitudes, expectations, and verdicts by examining the influence of perceived realism (i.e., the degree to which television programs are viewed as accurate and realistic depictions of the field that they portray) in this context, since some research has identified perceived realism as a moderator of the effects of television on attitudes. Participants were asked to play the role of mock jurors and read a trial transcript in which the Crown presented DNA evidence. Participants also indicated the frequency with which they watched crime television programs (frequency), as well as the degree to which they felt these programs were accurate and realistic depictions of the criminal justice system (perceived realism). Results revealed a number of interesting direct and indirect effects of both frequency of viewing and perceived realism on mock juror information processing, attitudes, and decision making, suggesting that in order to truly understand the effect that crime television may have on potential jurors, their frequency of watching must be considered in combination with the degree to which they perceive these programs as realistic depictions of the justice system.

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Keywords CSI effect, Jury decision making, Perceived realism, Perceptions of eyewitness testimony, Perceptions of forensic evidence
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Journal Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Maeder, E.M, & Corbett, R. (Richard). (2015). Beyond frequency: Perceived realism and the CSI effect. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 57(1), 83–114. doi:10.3138/cjccj.2013.E44