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The effect of biased and non-biased information on judgments of witness credibility

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The effects of biased and non-biased instructions on judgments of the credibility of witnesses, in the present study a female rape victim, were studied. The instructions related to the importance of the emotional expression accompanying her free recall account of the incident that was given with one of three emotional expressions, and either pointed to emotional expression as a sign of credibility (biased instruction) or warned against using emotional expression as a sign of credibility (non-biased instruction). The results confirmed that credibility ratings are strongly affected by the emotional expression, but showed that this relationship is modifiable when participants are given non-biased instructions.

Keywords: emotional expression; jury instructions; stereotypes; witness credibility

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Center for the Study of Human Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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