The Sample Case of Juror Reasoning

In one line of work (Kuhn, Weinstock, & Flaton, 1994; Kuhn & Weinstock, in press), we have explored juror reasoning as a real-world context in which to examine how people justify knowledge claims. Jurors who in their epistemological thinking expressed the absolutist's understanding of knowledge as certain were found most likely to be highly certain that their own verdict decisions were correct. They tended to ignore discrepancies and treated the evidence as revealing a single sequence of events that dictates the verdict. Jurors who exhibited an evaluativist level of epistemological understanding, in contrast, considered the presented evidence in relation to alternative theories of what might have happened and evaluated the evidence critically as a basis for choosing among them. The reasoning of others fell in between these two extremes, with a number expressing the multiplist's view that different accounts are equally likely and have equivalent claims to legitimacy.

Sources for further reading:

Kuhn, D., Weinstock, M., & Flaton, R. (1994). How well do jurors reason? Competence dimensions of individual variation in a juror reasoning task. Psychological Science, 5 , 289-296.

Kuhn, D., & Weinstock, M. (2002). What is epistemological thinking and why does it matter? In B. Hofer & P. Pintrich (Eds.). (in press). Epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.