The Jury, Justice and Eyewitness research group is involved in a number of research projects that apply psychological theories and methods to questions of law and public policy. The descriptions below provide a few examples of our current and recent work.
Law Student Lifestyle Study
Krystia and Brian are currently working on a project with the University of Nebraska College of Law measuring the effect of law school on law student's lifestyles. Law school is known for being challenging, competitive and stressful. Lawyers have also been found to suffer from rates of stress, depression, substance abuse, marital/family problems, and job burnout at rates significantly higher than the general professional and adult populations. These problems are extremely costly for the legal system and account for the majority of disciplinary proceedings. Krystia and Brian are looking at whether these problems begin during law school by measuring law students' levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional stressors as well as how law students cope with the demands of law school, particularly in terms of substance use.
Deliberation and Jury Damage Awards
Brian and Chris are conducting a study looking at how a group of jurors decide on a single amount to award in damages in a personal-injury trial. Most previous mock juror research has looked at how individual jurors make judgments and has ignored the deliberation component. To address this, they are looking at the effect of several variables, such as the amount requested by the plaintiff, how that amount is quantified, and judge's instructions.
Testing a Three Stage Model of Institutional Confidence across Levels of Government
Brian, Chris, Dezi, Joe and several colleagues from the University of Nebraska-Public Policy Center (Dr. Alan Tomkins, Dr. Lisa PytlikZillig, and Dr. Mitchel Herian) are currently involved in a National Science Foundation funded research effort which seeks to develop and test a model of trust and confidence in water regulators. To date, research has consistently lauded the positive influences of trust and confidence in a variety of institutions, however most of this research is limited by a lack of attention to the conceptual and empirical distinctions between the constructs. The current research therefore contributes to the literature by creating a series of conceptually and psychometrically evaluated scales of trust, confidence, and related constructs and proposing and testing a model in which their relative effects and directly tested.
Grant Summary - http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1061635