Should Jury Members be Assessed for Critical Thinking Ability Prior to Being Selected?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are on trial for a crime and are standing in front of a jury of your peers.  Those jury members are in charge of deciding whether you are guilty or innocent, and if guilty what punishment you will receive.  What is the most important quality you would want in a jury responsible for your fate? An open mind?  Sympathetic?  Unbiased?

Sure.  All of those sound like important qualities in a jury, but what about their ability to critically think through the evidence and arguments being presented by both sides?  The reality is that while we all believe we are skilled critical thinkers, that simply is not the case. Jury members hold a world of power in their hands.  Jury members can determine guilt, innocence, fines, incarceration terms, and even life or death.  It is potentially the most important civic responsibility we hold as citizens, and yet we do not have any system for assessing the critical thinking ability of the selected jury members.

While lawyers have the power to use Scientific Jury Selection, peremptory challenge, and dismiss candidates with clear biases, they are left to assume the critical thinking level of the jury pool.  That is a huge risk for all parties involved in litigation.  That is a risk that employers who are concerned with their employee’s decision making ability won’t take.

Employers know that assessing the critical thinking ability of their candidates with the Watson-Glaser TM II Critical Thinking Appraisal assessment will help them select better employees.

Those employees will be able to:

  • decipher fact from opinion
  • ask the right questions
  • make higher quality decisions
  • focus on the most important information.

Aren’t those skills you would want from a jury of your peers?

Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

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