Culture in the Courtroom: Ethnocentrism and juror decision-making
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a culturally-based argument in a non-insane automatism defense would be detrimental or beneficial to the defendant. We also examined how juror ethnocentrism might affect perceptions of such a defense. Participants read a fictional filicide homicide case in which the defendant claimed to have blacked out during the crime; we manipulated whether culture was used as an explanation for what precipitated the defendant's blackout. We conducted path analyses to assess the role of ethnocentrism in predicting lower defendant credibility, and harsher verdict decisions. Results revealed an interaction between ethnocentrism and defense type, such that ethnocentrism related to lower perceived defendant credibility in the cultural condition, but not in the standard automatism condition. This study marks a starting point for empirically investigating the role of culture in the courtroom, which may aid scholars in discussing the merits of a standalone cultural defense.