The University of Illinois-Chicago paper, The Chicago Flame (2009), profiles an undergraduate research project which examines the personality trait "Need For Cognition" (NFC) in jurors. NFC is assessed by endorsement of items like "I enjoy puzzles." Applied psychology/biology student Maria Vargas examined whether this trait affected outcomes in participation within juries depending on gender distribution. Vargas suggested that the greater the proportion of men on a jury, the less important NFC is to the participation of individual jurors, because competitive drives appear to take over.
A NFC measure was first introduced in 1982. The measure's authors, Cacioppo and Petty (1982) reported no gender differences, and Darley and Smith (1995) concurred. However, Tanaka et al (1988) found that women scored slightly higher on the "cognitive persistence" subscale (1 of 3). An individual who tends to evaluate a situation "multidimensionally" vs. "unidimensionally" is described as "cognitively persistent".
It looks likely that there is not a significant gender difference in NFC. That's why I find it so puzzling that the Flame article focuses on the gender composition of the juries. What is missing from the article is whether women with high NFC behave differently in jury deliberations than men with high NFC. The article does note that women in general participate in juror deliberations with fewer comments, but not how or if this varies with NFC. It's a student paper article about student research, so I can't tell if this is a weakness in the reporting or in the experiment. The main reason I'm even writing about it is that I haven't mentioned NFC before, and I thought it was an interesting construct.
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