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An Experimental Study of Jury Decision Rules


  • Guarnaschelli, Serena
  • McKelvey, Richard D.
  • Palfrey, Thomas R.


We present experimental results on groups facing a decision problem analogous to that faced by a jury. We consider three treatment variables: group size (three or six), number of votes needed for conviction (majority or unanimity), and pre-vote deliberation. We find evidence of strategic voting under the unanimity rule: A large fraction of our subjects vote for a decision analogous to conviction even when their private information indicates a state analogous to innocence. This is roughly consistent with the game theoretic predictions of Feddersen and Pesendorfer. Although individual behavior is explained well by the game theoretic model, there are discrepancies at the level of the group decision. Contrary to Feddersen and Pesendorfer, in our experiments there are fewer outcomes analogous to incorrect convictions under unanimity rule than under majority rule. In the case of no deliberation, we simultaneously account for the individual and group data using quantal response equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Guarnaschelli, Serena & McKelvey, Richard D. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2000. "An Experimental Study of Jury Decision Rules," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 94(2), pages 407-423, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:407-423_22

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