Dateline: July, 2011, Issue 2

Do male jurors talk more than female jurors in deliberations?

In the 1950s, Strodtbeck and colleagues (1956, 1957) conducted realistic mock jury research, using mock jurors chosen from the jury rolls, to determine which jurors talked most during deliberations. Jurors' participation levels varied widely, with jury deliberations typically dominated by only a few jurors. On average, three jurors accounted for more than 80% of the total speaking acts in jury deliberations, and most often these dominant jurors were upper-class men.

In 1983, Hastie and colleagues also conducted mock jury research, and reported that male jurors initiated about 40% more comments than female jurors.

In 2006, in an important study that taped actual civil jury deliberations in Arizona, Rose and colleagues also found that male jurors spoke more than female jurors. However, in that same year, York reported no gender differences in jurors' participation in deliberations.

In one of the most thorough investigations to date, Cornwell and Hans (2009) studied the deliberations of 2,306 criminal jurors who served on 311 juries in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, and Washington, D.C. As a special project of the National Center for State Courts, questionnaires were completed by jurors immediately before deliberations started and immediately after a verdict was announced or a mistrial declared.

While jurors differed in their reported participation in deliberations, these differences were not due to gender: On average, female jurors participated as much as male jurors, except in Los Angeles where female Asian jurors participated in deliberations at a significantly lower level than male Asian jurors.

Interestingly, participation levels of women were unrelated to the proportion of female jurors on the jury. Female jurors did not participate more when the jury included more women than men.

Women's role in American society has changed over time, and with this change, male and female jurors' participation levels in deliberations. With some exceptions, on average, male jurors do not talk more than female jurors in jury deliberations.

Source Strodtbeck, F.L. & Mann, R.D. (1956). Sex-role differentiation in jury deliberations. Sociometry, 19, pp. 3-11.

Source Strodtbeck, F.L., James, R.M. &Hawkins, C. (1957). Social status and jury deliberations. American Sociological Review, 22, pp. 713-719.

Source Hastie, R., Penrod, S.D. & Pennington, N. (1983). Inside the jury. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Source Rose, M.R., Diamond, S.S. & Murphy, B. (2006). He said/She said: An analysis of gender and participation in real jury deliberations. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, Quebec.

Source York,E. (2006). Social status in jury deliberations: 1957 and today, in memory of Fred Strodtbeck. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, Quebec.

Source Cornwell, E.Y. & Hans, V. P. (2009, July 30). Contextualizing Jury Participation: Case-, Jury-, and Juror-Level Predictors of Participation in Jury Deliberations. Paper presented at the. CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies.