Samuel R. Sommers
Tufts University – Department of Psychology
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 90, pp. 597-612, 2006
This research examines the multiple effects of racial diversity on group decision-making. Participants deliberated on the trial of a Black defendant as members of racially homogeneous or heterogeneous mock juries. Half of the groups were exposed to pretrial jury selection questions about racism and half were not. Deliberation analyses supported the prediction that diverse groups would exchange a wider range of information than all-White groups. This finding was not wholly attributable to the performance of Black participants, as Whites cited more case facts, made fewer errors, and were more amenable to discussion of racism when in diverse versus all-White groups. Even before discussion, Whites in diverse groups were more lenient towards the Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange. The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency towards a Black defendant.