Federal Rule of Evidence 403 requires evidence's probative value to substantially outweigh its prejudicial value for the evidence to be admitted. To date, courts have opinioned that photographic evidence holds low prejudicial impact and rarely render court proceedings unfair (Futch v. Dugger, 1989). The present study sought to empirically investigate this issue. In a 2 (Auditory Present/Auditory Absent) x 3 (Graphic Photo/Neutral Photo/No Photo) factorial design, 300 participants reviewed case materials from a recent murder case and provided information concerning their verdict decision. Emotional state data was also collected prior to and following review of the case materials via the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule - Expanded Form (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1994). Participants reviewing graphic photos coupled with their case materials experienced significantly greater increases in both sadness and surpise than those reviewing neutral or no photos. Participants who had an auditory recording present with their case materials experienced greater increases in both joviality and, to a lesser extent, hostility. Participants reviewing the auditory recording also reported being significantly less able to formulate their verdict decisions fairly or impartially. When heightened emotion is involved in decision making, cognitive resources for well-informed decisions are limited (Greene & Haidt, 2002). The current study suggests the potential for particular modes of evidentiary presentation to manipulate jurors' emotions, therefore increasing their prejudicial value. When the probative value of evidence does not outweigh the potentially prejudicial nature of jurors' heightened emotionality, the fairness of court proceedings may be questioned and issues of the defendant's right to a fair trial raised.
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Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
UCF Palm Bay
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Edwards, Emily, "Preserving the right to a fair trial an examination of the prejudicial value of visual and auditory evidence in the context of a criminal case" (2012). HIM 1990-2015. 1261.