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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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Date Created
2009

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Occupational Socialization’s Role in Forensic Psychologists’ Objectivity

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This report integrated quantitative and qualitative methods across two studies to compile descriptive information about forensic psychologists’ occupational socialization processes. We also explored the relation between occupational socialization and forensic psychologists’ objectivity. After interviewing 20 board-certified forensic psychologists, we surveyed

This report integrated quantitative and qualitative methods across two studies to compile descriptive information about forensic psychologists’ occupational socialization processes. We also explored the relation between occupational socialization and forensic psychologists’ objectivity. After interviewing 20 board-certified forensic psychologists, we surveyed 334 forensic psychologists about their socialization into the field. Results indicated that the occupational socialization processes of forensic psychologists, including socialization about objectivity, varied widely across time and situation as the field has developed. Moreover, three hypotheses regarding occupational socialization were supported. It was positively and significantly associated with years of experience, t(284) = 3.63, p < 0.001, 95% CI = 0.05 – 0.16; belief in one’s ability to be objective, t(296) = 9.90, p < 0.001, 95% CI = 0.69 – 1.03; and endorsement of the usefulness of various bias correction strategies, r = 0.38 (p < .001, one-tailed). The implications of these results and directions for future research are discussed.

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Date Created
2014

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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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Date Created
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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Date Created
2015-03