To flatter the jury: ingratiation effects during closing arguments

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University of Alabama Libraries

ABSTRACT The current study investigated the effect of defense attorney ingratiation during closing arguments of criminal trials. Previous research has shown ingratiation to be a powerful tool of social persuasion across many different settings. In the current study, participants read a vignette of a criminal case and then saw a videotaped presentation of closing arguments from actors portraying the prosecutor and defense attorneys. The defense attorney's closing argument contained either no, low, moderate or high levels of ingratiation. Results revealed that ingratiation had a significant effect on juror ratings of attorney attractiveness, trustworthiness, likeability, confidence, and overall credibility. As ingratiation increased ratings of attractiveness, trustworthiness, likeability and credibility increased whereas ratings of confidence decreased. Ingratiation did not significantly affect ratings of guilt directly; however, the relationship between ingratiation and guilt was significantly mediated by ratings of attorney attractiveness, trustworthiness, and confidence. Higher levels of these traits significantly lowered mock-jurors' ratings of the defendant's guilt. Finally, contrary to expectations, analyses revealed that self-esteem, self-efficacy, and the personality domains of extraversion and neuroticism were unrelated to ratings of attorney characteristics. The personality domains of openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness were able to significantly predict ratings of several attorney characteristics. Implications for the use of ingratiation during closing arguments of trials are discussed.

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Social psychology, Law