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The Habits of Normal, Innocent People, as Construed by the North American Juror

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


Deliberating juries draw on commonsense notions of what counts as “normal” behavior in distinguishing facts which are inculpatory from those that lend themselves to more innocent interpretation. Though this is a commonplace observation, prior research has shed little light on the underlying model(s) of normalcy. Taking a generative approach to inculpatory statements made by two real‐life juries deliberating the same case, I first enumerate the distinct assertions made, by implication, about normal, innocent people (NIPs), and then reduce these to a smaller number of rules revolving around the general themes of rationality, emotions, language, and relationships.