Accuracy, confidence, and juror perceptions in eyewitness identification

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Abstract

Undergraduates of both sexes individually witnessed the staged theft of a calculator. The 127 witnesses were then given the opportunity to identify the thief from a 6-person picture array; from this sample, 24 accurate-identification witnesses and 18 inaccurate-identification witnesses were cross-examined with either leading or nonleading questions. 201 undergraduates who served as jurors were unable to distinguish accurate from inaccurate witnesses across the 42 cross-examination sessions. However, jurors in the leading-questions conditions were significantly more likely to believe accurate than inaccurate witnesses, whereas the reverse effect held for nonleading questions. Jurors' attributions of witness confidence were unrelated to witness accuracy, even though these attributions accounted for 50% of the variance in jurors' decisions to believe witnesses. The poor accuracy/confidence relationship among witnesses is discussed in relation to the research on probability calibration. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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