Chapter 12
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Chapter 12. Law. The Social Psychology of Evidence. Overview of the American Criminal Justice System. Eyewitness Testimony. How accurate are eyewitness accounts? Three conclusions about eyewitness testimony: Eyewitnesses are imperfect.

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Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

Law


The Social Psychology of Evidence


Overview of the American Criminal Justice System


Eyewitness Testimony

  • How accurate are eyewitness accounts?

  • Three conclusions about eyewitness testimony:

    • Eyewitnesses are imperfect.

    • Certain personal and situational factors systematically influence eyewitness’ performance.

    • Judges, juries, and lawyers are not well informed about these factors.


Eyewitness Testimony: Acquisition

  • Refers to the witness’s perceptions at the time of the event in question.

  • Factors influencing acquisition:

    • One’s emotional state

    • Weapon-focus effect

    • Cross-race identification bias


Eyewitness Testimony: Storage

  • Refers to getting the information into memory to avoid forgetting.

  • Memory for faces and events tends to decline over time.

  • But, not all memories fade over time.

    • However, the “purity” of the memory can be influenced by postevent information.


Eyewitness Testimony: Storage (cont.)

  • Misinformation Effect: The tendency for false postevent information to become integrated into people’s memory of an event.

  • If adults can be misled by postevent information, what about children?

    • Repetition, misinformation, and leading questions can bias a child’s report, particularly for preschoolers.


Biasing Eyewitness Reports With Loaded Questions


Eyewitness Testimony: Retrieval

  • Refers to pulling the information out of storage when needed.

  • Factors affecting identification performance:

    • Lineup construction

    • Lineup instructions to the witness

    • Format of the lineup

    • Familiarity-induced biases


Courtroom Testimony of Eyewitnesses

  • Eyewitness testimony in court is persuasive and not easy to evaluate.

  • Why do jurors often overestimate the accuracy of eyewitnesses?

    • Lack knowledge about human memory.

    • Base judgments largely on witness’s confidence.


Morphing Composite Faces to Catch a Thief


Effects of Lineup and Instructions on False Identifications


The Biasing Effects of Post-Identification Feedback


Improving Eyewitness Justice

  • Educate judges and juries about the science so they can better evaluate eyewitnesses who testify in court.

  • Make eyewitness identification evidence itself more accurate.


What Eyewitness Experts Say in Court


What Eyewitness Experts Say in Court


The Psychology of Lie-Detection

  • Polygraph: A mechanical instrument that records physiological arousal from multiple channels.

  • Do the lie-detector tests really work?

    • Truthful people often fail the test.

    • The test can be faked by artificially inflating arousal responses to “innocent” questions.


Approaches to Police Interrogations

  • Pressure the suspect into submission by expressing certainty of his or her guilt.

  • Befriend the suspect.


The Nine Steps of Interrogation


False Confessions

  • May confess merely to escape a bad situation.

  • Internalization can lead innocent suspects to believe they might be guilty of the crime.

  • Two factors can increase the risk of false confessions:

    • Lack of a clear memory of the event in question

    • Presentation of false evidence


Factors That Produce False Confessions


Do Guilty Expectations Produce False Confessions?


Confessions and the Jury:An Attributional Dilemma

  • Juries are powerfully influenced by evidence of a confession, even if the confession was coerced.

    • Fundamental attribution error revisited.

  • A jury’s reaction can be influenced by how confession evidence is presented.


Jury Decision Making


Jury Selection

  • Voir dire is the pretrial examination of prospective jurors by the judge or opposing lawyers to uncover signs of bias.

  • A peremptory challenge is a means by which lawyers can exclude a limited number of prospective jurors without the judge’s approval.


Trial Lawyers as Intuitive Psychologists

  • As far as trial practice is concerned, how-to books claim that the astute lawyer can predict a juror’s verdict by his or her gender, race, age, ethnic background, and other simple demographics.


Scientific Jury Selection

  • A method of selecting juries through surveys that yield correlations between demographics and trial-relevant attitudes.

  • Does scientific jury selection work?

  • Is scientific jury selection ethical?


Juries in Black and White: Does Race Matter?

  • To what extent does a juror’s race color his or her decision making? Research suggests that there is no simple answer to this question.


Effects of Racial Diversity on the Jury


Death Qualification

  • A jury selection procedure used in capital cases that permits judges to exclude prospective jurors who say they would not vote for the death penalty.

  • Are death-qualified juries prone to convict?


The Courtroom Trial


Nonevidentiary Influences: Pretrial Publicity

  • Does exposure to pretrial news stories corrupt prospective jurors?

  • Why is pretrial publicity potentially dangerous?

    • Often divulges information that is not later allowed into the trial record

    • Issue of timing


Contaminating Effects of Pretrial Publicity


Nonevidentiary Influences: Inadmissible Testimony

  • Why do people not always follow a judge’s order to disregard inadmissible evidence?

    • Added instruction draws attention to the information in controversy.

    • Judge’s instruction to disregard may arouse reactance.

    • Jurors want to reach the right decision, so it is hard to ignore information that seems relevant to the case.


Nonevidentiary Influences: The Judge’s Instructions

  • To make verdicts adhere to the law, juries are supposed to comply with the judge’s instructions.

  • Do jurors understand their instructions?

  • What about the timing of the instructions?

  • What if the jury disagrees with the law?

    • Jury nullification


Jury Deliberation


Leadership in the Jury Room

  • A person is more likely to be chosen as foreperson if the person:

    • Is of higher occupational status or has prior jury experience

    • Is a male

    • Is the first person who speaks

    • Is sitting at the head of a rectangular table

  • Forepersons act more as the jury’s moderator rather than its leader.


The Dynamics of Deliberation

  • In criminal trials, deliberation tends to produce a leniency bias favoring the defendant.

    • leniency bias is the tendency for jury deliberation to produce a tilt toward acquittal.

  • How do juries resolve disagreements?

    • A combination of informational and normative influence


Jury Deliberations: The Process


The Road to Agreement: From Individual Votes to a Group Verdict


Jury Size

  • How does jury size affect the decision-making process?

    • Possible lack of allies in smaller juries may make it harder to resist normative pressures.

    • Smaller juries are less likely to represent minority segments of the population.

    • Smaller juries are more likely to reach unanimous decisions after shorter deliberation periods.


Less-Than-Unanimous Verdicts

  • Weakens jurors who are in the voting minority.

  • Breeds closed-mindedness.

  • Short-circuits the discussion.

  • Leaves many jurors uncertain about the decision.


Posttrial

To Prison and Beyond


The Sentencing Process

  • People disagree on the goals served by imprisonment.

    • Incapacitate offenders and deter them from committing future crimes?

    • Exact retribution for misdeeds?

  • Common public complaint is sentencing disparity.

    • Sentencing disparity is the inconsistency of sentences for the same offense from one judge to another.


The Prison Experience

  • Does the prison situation lead guards and prisoners to behave as they do?

  • Zimbardo et al.’s (1973) Stanford Prison Study.

  • How does this study inform the power of the situation?


Perceptions of Justice


Justice as a Matter of Procedure

  • Satisfaction with dispute resolution depends on both the outcome and the procedure used to achieve those outcomes.

  • Important aspects of procedure:

    • Decision control

    • Process control


Which Legal System Do People Prefer?

  • Adversarial Model: The prosecution and defense present opposing sides of the story.

  • Inquisitorial Model: A neutral investigator gathers evidence from both sides and presents the findings in court.

  • Adversarial proceedings seen as more fair and just because the method offers participants a voice in the proceedings.


Culture, Law, and Justice

  • Much of research from this chapter can be universally applied

    • Yet there are important cross-cultural differences

  • Different nations have different laws

  • Different cultures have different customs

  • Likewise, punishments for crimes also vary


Closing Statement


Closing Statement

  • Through an understanding of social psychology we can now identify the problems in the legal system and even find some solutions.


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