Graduate Program

Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Keith M. Wilson


In order to investigate the effect of judge's instructions and juror beliefs, eighty-three undergraduate males enrolled in psychology classes at Eastern Illinois University participated in a simulated sexual abuse trial. Participants either heard standard instructions in which the judge instructed jurors to decide guilt or innocence based on evidence alone or standard instructions plus information regarding children's limitations as witnesses. Instructions occurred either after testimony or before and after testimony. Certainty of guilt was unrelated to either the timing or type of instructions. However with regard to sentence, there was a significant interaction between timing of instructions and type of instructions (p < .05). Prior beliefs regarding the suggestibility of child witnesses was unrelated to certainty of verdict and sentence.