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Thesis

The CSI effect examined

1 January 2015

Abstract

Some researchers have contended that jurors in criminal trials have unrealistic expectations for the availability of pro-prosecution evidence and that, when these expectations are not satisfactorily met, jurors are more likely to acquit defendants based on reasonable doubt of guilt (Mancini, 2011). With the increased popularity of crime scene investigative television shows, it is important to determine whether viewing these shows has any bearing on the jury decision-making process. Considering the relative dearth of empirical studies that directly examine the CSI Effect, the purpose of the present study was to further knowledge on this topic. The participants were 199 jury-eligible undergraduate and graduate university students. Participants completed a brief online questionnaire, which included demographics information and items that examined the participants’ opinions regarding forensic topics. For the undergraduate students and the combined sample, the findings supported the hypothesis that as hours spent watching forensic-themed television programs increased so too would self-perceived knowledge of the criminal justice system. The findings did not support the hypothesis in any group that as the viewing of forensic-themed television programs increased so too would expectations for pro-prosecution physical evidence.


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