Social attributions and conversation style in trial testimony

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Abstract

83 undergraduates and 43 law students heard either a male or a female witness in a taped reenactment of criminal trial testimony. The testimony was presented either in a “fragmented” style, with brief answers by the witness to many questions by the lawyer, or in a “narrative” style, with long answers to few questions. Consideration of adversary court norms and sex stereotypes led to the prediction that Ss would attribute favorable evaluation of the witness by the lawyer in the female witness-narrative style condition and unfavorable evaluation of the witness by the lawyer in the male witness-fragmented style condition. The prediction with respect to the female witness was confirmed only with law students; the prediction with respect to the male witness was confirmed only with undergraduates. Ss' own evaluations of the witness showed the same pattern of effects. Implications for social perception and social psychology of law are discussed. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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