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SPLITTING juries of 12 people into smaller groups to discuss court cases could produce better jury decision-making, according to psychologists at the University of Portsmouth.

Dr Bridget Waller and colleagues in the department of psychology ran an experiment that manipulated the seating arrangements for jurors deliberating a mock court case which showed smaller groups of jurors felt less intimidated and that their views were taken more into consideration.

The experiment was conducted by setting up a traditional jury room with 12 chairs around a table, and a second room with chairs in clusters of four jurors.

Dr Waller said: ‘People naturally split into groups of four during conversations and so asking groups of 12 – such as juries – to make decisions is unlikely to result in all the people being able or willing to contribute to the decision making process.

‘This is counter to scientific research which proves the more information is shared, the better the decisions will be.

‘In our experiments we found that jurors experienced greater shared information when they had the opportunity to talk in small groups, which is the basis of any good decision.’