Laboratory for the Study of Judicial Processes was established to facilitate research in the area of law and social psychology in its broadest definition. In 1989 it provided a home for a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the impact of ethnicity on jury decision-making. Additional activities have been the analysis of data from archived case files and several experiments focusing on the impact of courtroom interpretation on jury decisions. More recent work incorporated survey methods to assess the opinions of experts who testify in courts of law regarding the scientific foundations of facts associated with eyewitness reliability, experimental work, again supported by the National Science Foundation, assessing the impact of language of testimony and juror's use of Spanish and English on the outcomes of criminal cases.
The most recent set of studies has been focusing on jurors' belief of alibi witnesses as they are influence by the degree and type of relationships between an alibi corroborator and a defendant. Additional recent projects conducted under the umbrella of the Institute have been studies of: the perception of female attorneys, the qualities of relationships between alibi corroborators and defendants, the degree of physical resemblance between an alibi witness and a defendant, the use of the Fifth Amendment right to refuse self-incrimination, and the impact of Federal and Texas State sentencing ranges on jurors' guilt and sentencing decisions. Recent work has also been done coding jury deliberations and assessing the impact of juror's Spanish-English language dominance on case outcome and jurors perceptions of their fellow jurors.
The long-term goal of the Institute is to investigate empirically the social psychological bases of human behavior in legal and especially in judicial contexts. Research is being guided by considerations from evolutionary theory and theories of social cognition.