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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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eyewitness testimony
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
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
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
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.
eyewitness testimony retrieval
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
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.
improving eyewitness justice
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.
the psychology of lie detection
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
Approaches to Police Interrogations
  • Pressure the suspect into submission by expressing certainty of his or her guilt.
  • Befriend the suspect.
false confessions
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
confessions and the jury an attributional dilemma
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 selection
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
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
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
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.
death qualification
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?
nonevidentiary influences pretrial publicity
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
nonevidentiary influences inadmissible testimony
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
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
leadership in the jury room
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
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 size
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
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.


To Prison and Beyond

the sentencing process
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
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?
justice as a matter of procedure
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
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
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 statement1
Closing Statement
  • Through an understanding of social psychology we can now identify the problems in the legal system and even find some solutions.