Law and Human Behavior
Confession (Law) -- United States, Evidence (Law) -- United States, Police questioning -- United States, Jury -- United States -- Decision making, Expert evidence -- United States
Confession evidence can be extremely damaging in the courtroom; jurors are more willing to convict based on the presence of a confession than eyewitness evidence and character testimony (Kassin & Neumann, 1997). To date, no research has examined whether jurors notice variations in confession evidence based on whether the confession is consistent or inconsistent with the crime evidence (a likely low quality confession). In Study 1, mock jurors read a trial summary in which a suspect’s confession was consistent or inconsistent with other case facts. Jurors were marginally more likely to convict if the confession and case facts were consistent than if they were not, but did not view the confession differently based on the consistency of the confession and case facts. In Study 2, we varied whether an expert testified about the consistency of the confession and case facts. Jurors who reported for jury duty did not render different trial decisions or view the confession differently based on the consistency of the confession and case facts or the presence of the expert testimony. We expanded the design in Study 3 to vary the content of the confession in addition to the case facts. Jurors used the consistency of the confession and case facts in making decisions, and expert testimony sensitized jurors to variations in the content of confession evidence on the verdict measure. Findings suggest jurors notice variations in confession evidence and expert testimony shows promise for educating jurors about characteristics of confessions.
© American Psychological Association, 2016. This pre-print version of the paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available at:
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PREPRINT Henderson, K. S., & Levett, L. M. (2016). Can Expert Testimony Sensitize Jurors to Variations in Confession Evidence? Law and Human Behavior, 40(6), 638-649. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000204