Goffman on the Jury: Real Juror’s Attention to the “Offstage” of trials.
Social psychologist Erving Goffman, in his classic work The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, provides a framework that explains why jurors may turn their attention at the courthouse to information not formally presented from the witness stand. We dub this “offstage observation,” a type of juror behavior that has not been systematically examined empirically. Analyzing a unique data source of 50 actual jury deliberations in civil trials, we find that jurors do look to the offstage in evaluating the claims of the parties. However, in contrast to predictions, these observations played a surprisingly minor role in the jury deliberation process.