November 04, 2019 Articles

Political Affiliation and Jurors’ Verdict Orientation in Personal Injury Cases

Moral foundation theory provides a framework for understanding why liberals and conservatives differ in how they evaluate personal injury cases.

By Eric Rudich

When deciding a case, jurors’ political beliefs matter. In politics, liberals and conservatives often disagree about important issues such as income inequality, immigration, national security, and environmental protection. During trial, political beliefs also provide a lens through which jurors view the case facts and attorney arguments. For example, liberals and conservatives differ in their views about personal responsibility and corporate behavior, which in turn affect their reactions to personal injury cases. Although jurors are instructed to keep an open mind during trial, people are predisposed to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms their preexisting beliefs. Conversely, information that supports a different viewpoint is likely to be dismissed or ignored. This tendency is known as confirmation bias. Thus, jurors are predisposed to seek evidence and arguments that are consistent with their preexisting beliefs and ignore or dismiss information that is inconsistent with their preexisting views.

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