Chocolate covered bacon.
Grilled cow's brains.
Be honest. What was your first reaction when you read the words? Chances are that's how you feel about them. Now, upon further reflection you might change your mind. You might modify your opinion so as not to offend someone.
But nothing can change that initial reaction - your gut reaction. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks of "thin-slicing." That's the process of jumping to a conclusion based on a small sample size - but, remarkably, that gut reaction is oftentimes correct. It works because we are able to take the pattern of what we saw or heard and compare it with other patterns we've experienced during our lives.
Ask a young child a question and you will get an honest answer - because the child hasn't learned to filter his or her opinions. I have a three year-old daughter and there are situations that my wife and I dread because we have no idea what's going to come out of her mouth.
I believe that jurors are the same. I always ask jurors a series of scaled questions designed to identify their attitudes (and to ensure I speak to everyone). When I ask a juror to rank on a scale of 0-10 whether they think my client is guilty, I get answers all over the board. The same thing happens when I ask the panel to rate their feelings on whether my client testifies or not. I use those answers to strike jurors for cause.
When the juror is brought before the bench I stand and listen while the prosecutor, and even the judge, attempt to rehabilitate him. At that point the juror has had time to think over his or her answer and is now standing face to face with an authority figure sitting on high with a black robe. Of course that juror is going to say "yes" when the judge asks him if he can follow the law - despite the honest answer he gave during voir dire.
That answer doesn't mean that the bias or prejudice is gone - it just means that the juror felt pressured by the situation to rethink his or her initial reaction in order to please an authority figure.
"'Thin slices' of life" Monitor, March 2005, vol. 36, no. 3
"Very first impressions" Emotions, 2006, vol. 6, no. 2
"First impressions surprisingly accurate" WebMD, Nov. 6, 2009