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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77857 Find in a Library
Title: Effects of Expert Psychological Advice on Human Performance in Judging the Validity of Eyewitness Testimony
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:4  Issue:4  Dated:special issue (1980)  Pages:275-285
Author(s): G L Wells; R C L Lindsay; J P Tousignant
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Expert psychological advice can eliminate jurors' overbelief in eyewitnesses and greatly reduce jurors' reliance on witnesses' confidence; such advice does not necessarily improve jurors' accounts of witnessing conditions across crimes or their ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate witnesses within crimes.
Abstract: Subjects were 192 persons eligible for jury roles, who were told that their role would be that of a juror evaluating the testimony of an eyewitness to a crime. Expert psychological advice was given regarding witness confidence and witness memory credibility. Subjects were then asked whether they believed that the witness had made an accurate identification. Analysis was made of the effect that expert advice had on the jurors' tendency to rely on eyewitnesses' confidence in making their decisions. Results show that there is considerable room for learning to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate witnesses, learning to take adequate account of witnessing conditions, learning not to heavily rely on eyewitness confidence, and learning not to overwillingly believe eyewitnesses. Expert advice can eliminate the overbelief bias and greatly reduce subject-jurors' reliance on eyewitness confidence. Footnotes, tables, a graph, a note, and 11 references are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Accountability; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Psychologists; Suspect identification; Witnesses
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