Methodological issues in legal communication research: What can trial simulations tell us?

Gerald R. Miller, Norman E. Fontes, Franklin J. Boster, Michael J. Sunnafrank

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17 Scopus citations


Drawing partially upon examples from a four-year program of research dealing with the use of videotape in courtroom trials, this paper critically discusses three aspects of trial simulations used to study juror responses: (1) the individuals used as jurors, as well as their expectations concerning the juror task; (2) the amount of information provided for jurors, as well as the primary medium by which it is communicated; and (3) the presence or absence of jury deliberation, particularly as it relates to the relationship between individual (juror) and group (jury) decisions. Three methodological caveats are suggested for legal communication research employing trial simulations, and it is argued that adherence to them will enhance the ecological validity of legal communication research findings generated in simulated trial environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1983

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Gerald R. Miller is professor of communication at Michigan State University;Norman E. Fontes isa communication consultant in San Francisco; Franklin f. Boster is associate professor of communication at Arizona Slate University; and Michael j . Sunnafrank is assistant professor of rhetoric at the University of California at Davis. The research discussed in this paper was supported by NSF Grant §38398, Gerald R. Miller and Frederick S. Siebert, Principal Investigators; and by NSF Grant #APR 75-15815, Gerald R. Miller, Principal Investigator.


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