Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rebellious Arousal

Amy hasn't blogged too much lately, so I thought that I would give a crack at it.

I often spend my evenings studying into the wee hours of the morning. While studying, I sometimes have interesting thoughts relating to what I'm reading. This evening I was reading about judges giving "limiting instructions" to jurors. This essentially means that while a Judge might permit a witness to testify about something, he only wants the jury to use the witness's testimony for a specific purpose. For example, the judge might allow John to testify that he has seen the defendant hot-wire a car on several previous occasions. The judge is allowing this piece of evidence to show that John has the requisite knowledge to hot-wire a car (I sure don't...). But the judge will follow up with a limiting instruction telling the jury that even though John has hot-wired cars before, they shouldn't take it to mean that he did it on this specific instance that he is being tried for. The jury should only use the knowledge to infer that he knows how to do it. Thus the instruction is limited.

Anyways, according to the "reactance theory," juror's can get psychologically aroused when they hear limiting instructions. Here's the relevant quote that I found interesting:

"According to reactance theory, when individuals perceive that their ability to perform behaviors is threatened they will become psychologically aroused, which is known as reactance. Presumably, this would occur in a courtroom when a judge informs a jury that they must disregard a piece of information that they are aware of.... An individual then is motivated to reduce this psychological arousal. The juror may attempt to psychologically aggress against the threatening agent (the judge) or attempt to reestablish his or her freedom by performing the threatened behavior."

So, what it's saying is that if you tell a juror not to do it, they might be even more tempted to do it.

Anyways, I would say that I was aroused quite a bit as a teenager. Whenever my parents told me not to do something, I wanted to do it.


Chelsea said...

"I was aroused quite a bit as a teenager"....hmmm seems like too much information to me!!!! Haha. Hope your studies are going well. Tell your slacker wife that I still have not been updated about these summer work plans I heard rumor of!!! Ya'll need to keep a girl updated!

Sean and Amy said...

Wow babe, honestly, I have no idea what you are talking about... Glad you're the one in law school and not me :)