The Effects of Racial Diversity in Citizen Decision-Making Bodies

Christopher F. Karpowitz, Tali Mendelberg, Elizabeth Mitchell Elder, David Ribar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many citizen decision-making bodies, from juries to boards, have the potential to represent racial minority views because they must deliberate and decide unanimously. However, little is known about the effects of racial diversity on group decisions. Existing studies use observational data, include too few people of color (POCs), or cannot disentangle race and preferences. We study one such body, the civil jury, which can check economic actors whose actions disproportionately affect minoritized populations. We analyze 2,694 citizens randomly assigned to 449 mock juries tasked with deciding punitive damages against corporations. The number of POCs on a jury affects private opinions, even accounting for other group and individual characteristics. However, group decisions are less affected, because POC dissenters carry less influence than White dissenters: POCs can change minds more easily than votes. Deliberation and veto power do not eliminate racial barriers to substantive representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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