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Credibility in the Courtroom: How Likeable Should an Expert Witness Be?

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This study sought to investigate the relation between expert witness likeability and juror judgments of credibility and sentencing. Two actors playing expert witnesses were trained to present themselves as high and low in likeability in a standard testimony scenario involving

This study sought to investigate the relation between expert witness likeability and juror judgments of credibility and sentencing. Two actors playing expert witnesses were trained to present themselves as high and low in likeability in a standard testimony scenario involving capital trial sentencing. The effects of extraversion and gender in mock jurors in attending to expert testimony were also examined. The dependent variables were the perceptions of the witnesses’ credibility and agreement with testimony and the participants were 210 psychology undergraduates. Likeability of expert witnesses was found to be significantly related to judgments of trustworthiness of the experts, but not related to confidence or knowledge of the experts or to the mock juror sentencing decisions. Women participants rated high likeable experts as more credible than low likeable experts; men did not. For men jurors, agreement with testimony increased as extraversion increased. However, for women jurors, agreement with testimony decreased as extraversion increased. The results suggest that likeability can be an important element of source credibility, and that attorneys and trial consultants now have an empirical foundation for addressing likeability as part of witness preparation.

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2009

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Measuring Abuse Sequelae: Validating and Extending the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40

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The current study used the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40) to index both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) in a college student sample of both men and women (N = 441). Although the TSC-40 was designed as

The current study used the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40) to index both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) in a college student sample of both men and women (N = 441). Although the TSC-40 was designed as a measure of CSA trauma, this study concludes the measure is appropriately reliable for indexing the traumatic sequelae of CPA as well as CSA in nonclinical samples. The current study also explored the effects of gender and abuse severity on resulting symptomatology, finding that women and severely abused individuals report the most negative sequelae. Both CSA and CPA emerged as significant explanatory variables in TSC-40 scale scores beyond gender, supporting its validity for indexing traumatic sequelae in nonclinical samples.

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2013

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Women as Expert Witnesses: A Review of the Literature

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This review of women’s participation in the legal system as expert witnesses examines the empirical literature on the perceived credibility and persuasiveness of women compared to men experts. The effects of expert gender are complex and sometimes depend on the

This review of women’s participation in the legal system as expert witnesses examines the empirical literature on the perceived credibility and persuasiveness of women compared to men experts. The effects of expert gender are complex and sometimes depend on the circumstances of the case. Some studies find no differences, some find favorable effects for women and others for men, and still others find that expert gender interacts with other circumstances of the case. The findings are interpreted through social role theory (Eagly, 1987) and the role incongruity theory of prejudice (Eagly & Karau, 2002, Eagly & Koenig, 2008). Future directions for research are identified and implications are considered for attorneys who select and prepare expert witnesses. Suggestions for men and women’s behavior as expert witnesses are provided.

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2014-03-13

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Differences in Expert Witness Knowledge: Do Mock Jurors Notice and Does it Matter?

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The knowledge of experts presumably affects their credibility and the degree to which the trier of fact will agree with them. However, specific effects of demonstrated knowledge are largely unknown. This experiment manipulated a forensic expert’s level of knowledge in

The knowledge of experts presumably affects their credibility and the degree to which the trier of fact will agree with them. However, specific effects of demonstrated knowledge are largely unknown. This experiment manipulated a forensic expert’s level of knowledge in a mock trial paradigm. We tested the relation between low versus high expert knowledge on mock juror perceptions of expert credibility, on agreement with the expert, and on sentencing. We also tested expert gender as a potential moderator. Knowledge effects were statistically significant; however, these differences carried little practical utility in predicting mock jurors’ ultimate decisions. Contrary to hypotheses that high knowledge would yield increased credibility and agreement, knowledge manipulations only influenced perceived expert likeability. The low knowledge expert was perceived as more likeable than his or her high knowledge counterpart, a paradoxical finding. No significant differences across expert gender were found. Implications for conceptualizing expert witness knowledge, credibility, and their potential effects on juror decision-making are discussed.

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2015-03