One-sighted: How visual attention biases legal decision-making

Anni Sternisko, Yael Granot, Emily Balcetis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Despite universal aspirations to hold all people equal before the law and guarantee a fair trial to defendants regardless of their race, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, disparity continues to pervade the justice system. People who belong to some social groups are particularly likely to receive harsher legal outcomes than others. The justice system attempts to remedy such inter-group bias by collecting and considering evidence that speaks to the ‘objective’ truth of an event, some of the most potent forms of which include pictorial images and video footage. While such visual evidence is itself considered objective, it can perhaps counter-intuitively foster bias in court. We review research and provide original data asserting that bias in legal judgment persists despite the inclusion of visual evidence partly because decision-makers’ perceptions of visual evidence may be swayed by subjective factors. Specifically, social group membership engenders bias in verdicts and punishment decisions because it directs the way that people visually attend to evidence. To account more fully for variability in legal decisions, we argue that social group membership must be investigated concurrently with its impact on the encoding and processing of visual information. This chapter synthesizes contemporary research on visual attention and contextualizes it within the evaluation of legal evidence. We draw upon our own work and that of others’ who have used eye-tracking and other techniques to measure or manipulate overt visual attention to evidence. We argue that the consideration of visual attention can assist in predicting when and how social group membership biases legal decisionmaking, and we speculate about the underlying psychological mechanisms responsible. Finally, we propose ways in which visual attention can be utilized to mitigate biases in legal decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNew Developments in Visual Attention Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages105-139
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9781536123913
ISBN (Print)9781536123746
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Fingerprint

Decision Making
Decision making
Social Justice
Visual Perception
Punishment
Religion
Processing
Automatic Data Processing
Ethnic Groups
Research
Sexual Behavior
Psychology

Keywords

  • Legal decisionmaking
  • Legal outcomes
  • Social group membership
  • Social identity
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Sternisko, A., Granot, Y., & Balcetis, E. (2017). One-sighted: How visual attention biases legal decision-making. In New Developments in Visual Attention Research (pp. 105-139). Nova Science Publishers, Inc..

One-sighted : How visual attention biases legal decision-making. / Sternisko, Anni; Granot, Yael; Balcetis, Emily.

New Developments in Visual Attention Research. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2017. p. 105-139.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Sternisko, A, Granot, Y & Balcetis, E 2017, One-sighted: How visual attention biases legal decision-making. in New Developments in Visual Attention Research. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 105-139.
Sternisko A, Granot Y, Balcetis E. One-sighted: How visual attention biases legal decision-making. In New Developments in Visual Attention Research. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2017. p. 105-139
Sternisko, Anni ; Granot, Yael ; Balcetis, Emily. / One-sighted : How visual attention biases legal decision-making. New Developments in Visual Attention Research. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2017. pp. 105-139
@inbook{e6a1a0b5c3744a5180fd979c4d386d89,
title = "One-sighted: How visual attention biases legal decision-making",
abstract = "Despite universal aspirations to hold all people equal before the law and guarantee a fair trial to defendants regardless of their race, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, disparity continues to pervade the justice system. People who belong to some social groups are particularly likely to receive harsher legal outcomes than others. The justice system attempts to remedy such inter-group bias by collecting and considering evidence that speaks to the ‘objective’ truth of an event, some of the most potent forms of which include pictorial images and video footage. While such visual evidence is itself considered objective, it can perhaps counter-intuitively foster bias in court. We review research and provide original data asserting that bias in legal judgment persists despite the inclusion of visual evidence partly because decision-makers’ perceptions of visual evidence may be swayed by subjective factors. Specifically, social group membership engenders bias in verdicts and punishment decisions because it directs the way that people visually attend to evidence. To account more fully for variability in legal decisions, we argue that social group membership must be investigated concurrently with its impact on the encoding and processing of visual information. This chapter synthesizes contemporary research on visual attention and contextualizes it within the evaluation of legal evidence. We draw upon our own work and that of others’ who have used eye-tracking and other techniques to measure or manipulate overt visual attention to evidence. We argue that the consideration of visual attention can assist in predicting when and how social group membership biases legal decisionmaking, and we speculate about the underlying psychological mechanisms responsible. Finally, we propose ways in which visual attention can be utilized to mitigate biases in legal decision-making.",
keywords = "Legal decisionmaking, Legal outcomes, Social group membership, Social identity, Visual attention",
author = "Anni Sternisko and Yael Granot and Emily Balcetis",
year = "2017",
month = "1",
day = "1",
language = "English (US)",
isbn = "9781536123746",
pages = "105--139",
booktitle = "New Developments in Visual Attention Research",
publisher = "Nova Science Publishers, Inc.",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - One-sighted

T2 - How visual attention biases legal decision-making

AU - Sternisko, Anni

AU - Granot, Yael

AU - Balcetis, Emily

PY - 2017/1/1

Y1 - 2017/1/1

N2 - Despite universal aspirations to hold all people equal before the law and guarantee a fair trial to defendants regardless of their race, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, disparity continues to pervade the justice system. People who belong to some social groups are particularly likely to receive harsher legal outcomes than others. The justice system attempts to remedy such inter-group bias by collecting and considering evidence that speaks to the ‘objective’ truth of an event, some of the most potent forms of which include pictorial images and video footage. While such visual evidence is itself considered objective, it can perhaps counter-intuitively foster bias in court. We review research and provide original data asserting that bias in legal judgment persists despite the inclusion of visual evidence partly because decision-makers’ perceptions of visual evidence may be swayed by subjective factors. Specifically, social group membership engenders bias in verdicts and punishment decisions because it directs the way that people visually attend to evidence. To account more fully for variability in legal decisions, we argue that social group membership must be investigated concurrently with its impact on the encoding and processing of visual information. This chapter synthesizes contemporary research on visual attention and contextualizes it within the evaluation of legal evidence. We draw upon our own work and that of others’ who have used eye-tracking and other techniques to measure or manipulate overt visual attention to evidence. We argue that the consideration of visual attention can assist in predicting when and how social group membership biases legal decisionmaking, and we speculate about the underlying psychological mechanisms responsible. Finally, we propose ways in which visual attention can be utilized to mitigate biases in legal decision-making.

AB - Despite universal aspirations to hold all people equal before the law and guarantee a fair trial to defendants regardless of their race, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, disparity continues to pervade the justice system. People who belong to some social groups are particularly likely to receive harsher legal outcomes than others. The justice system attempts to remedy such inter-group bias by collecting and considering evidence that speaks to the ‘objective’ truth of an event, some of the most potent forms of which include pictorial images and video footage. While such visual evidence is itself considered objective, it can perhaps counter-intuitively foster bias in court. We review research and provide original data asserting that bias in legal judgment persists despite the inclusion of visual evidence partly because decision-makers’ perceptions of visual evidence may be swayed by subjective factors. Specifically, social group membership engenders bias in verdicts and punishment decisions because it directs the way that people visually attend to evidence. To account more fully for variability in legal decisions, we argue that social group membership must be investigated concurrently with its impact on the encoding and processing of visual information. This chapter synthesizes contemporary research on visual attention and contextualizes it within the evaluation of legal evidence. We draw upon our own work and that of others’ who have used eye-tracking and other techniques to measure or manipulate overt visual attention to evidence. We argue that the consideration of visual attention can assist in predicting when and how social group membership biases legal decisionmaking, and we speculate about the underlying psychological mechanisms responsible. Finally, we propose ways in which visual attention can be utilized to mitigate biases in legal decision-making.

KW - Legal decisionmaking

KW - Legal outcomes

KW - Social group membership

KW - Social identity

KW - Visual attention

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85035133838&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85035133838&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Chapter

SN - 9781536123746

SP - 105

EP - 139

BT - New Developments in Visual Attention Research

PB - Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

ER -