From group member to democratic citizen: How deliberating with fellow jurors reshapes civic attitudes

John Gastil, Laura W. Black, E. Pierre Deess, Jay Leighter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This investigation assesses the attitudinal impact of one of America's most distinctive and famous group activities - jury deliberation. Tocqueville and the U.S. Supreme Court have both reasoned that jury service can promote civic engagement and recent research supports this view. The present study examines whether the attitudinal impact of jury deliberation depends on the quality of one's jury experience. Two panel surveys of 2,410 total jurors tested the reciprocal relationship between the subjective experience of deliberation and the changes in civic attitudes toward oneself, fellow citizens, and public institutions. Principal results of structural equation models showed multiple effects of jury deliberation on attitudes, but there were no effects on one's civic identity and political self-efficacy. Reciprocally, every civic attitude except faith in fellow citizens was predictive of deliberative experience in at least one of the two studies. Overall, the study bolsters the claim of deliberative democratic theorists that the experience of consequential face-to-face talk can make private individuals into public citizens by reinforcing their confidence in fellow citizens and public institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-169
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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