Forensic - Reaching A Verdict - Witness Appeal

attractiveness of the defendant 

witness confidence 

effect of shields and videotape on children giving evidence 

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Castellow (1990)

Aim: to test the hypothesis that an attractive defendant is less likely to be seen as guilty. victim is attractive, the defendant is more likely to be found guilty. look for any gender differences in jury verdicts depending on attractiveness

Method: Lab experiment using mock trial, independent measures design

Sample: 71m74f students-given extra credit at East Carolina Uni

Procedure:told they would be reading sexual harrassment case, attatched photographs of victim and defendant (prev. categorised on scale 1-9), answered Q 'do you think Mr Radford is guilty of sexual harrassment?', asked to rate def and vic on 11 bipolar scales: dull-exciting, nervous-calm, warm-cold

Key Results:physically attractive defendants and victims rated positively on other variables also. defendant attractive-guilty verdict found 56% (76% unattractive). when victim was attractive-guilty verdict found 77% (55% unattractive). no significant gender differences

Conclusions:defendant well advised to make best of appearance when in court

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Castellow (1990)

COGNITIVE

Evaluation Points: 

  • determinism vs. free will
  • reductionism vs. holism 

Method issues:

  • low ecological validity for pps
  • ethnocentrism - all from same uni, for extra credit, under US court laws

useful applications when applied to court cases and how jury cast verdict on the attractiveness of defendants and victims. helps understanding of human phenomenon

ignores other human complexities - deterministic. low in ecological validity - pps cannot feel full arousal felt in courtroom situations 

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Penrod & Cutler (1995)

Aim: to examine several factors inc. confidence, that jurors might consider when evaluating eye witness identification evidence

Method: an experiment using a mock trial scenario, independent measures design

Sample: undergraduates, eligible and experienced jurors

Procedure: videotaped trial of robbery shown-eye witness identification played key role. witness testified she was either 80 or 100% confident of her identification. 9 other variablesPPS experienced high or low condition variables randomly. after film, PPS asked to decide whether robber is guilty or not 

Key Results: suspect in disguise: high-63% convicted low-63%, weapon focus: high-64% low-63%. retention interval: 14days-63% 2days-63%. witness confidence about identification: 100%-67% 80%-60%

Conclusions: evidence in the field is consistent in showing that confidence is a poor predictor of witness accuracy. shows that jurors' trust in it is undiminished, even if judge advises jury to be wary of it

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Penrod & Cutler (1995)

COGNITIVE

Evaluation Points: 

  • determinism vs. free will
  • reductionism vs. holism 

Method issues:

  • low ecological validity for pps
  • ethnocentrism - under US court laws

useful applications when applied to court cases and how witness confidence has an effect on juries. helps understanding of human phenomenon

ignores other human complexities - deterministic. low in ecological validity - pps cannot feel full arousal felt in courtroom situations 

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Ross (1994)

Aim: to find out if the use of protective shields & videotaped testimony increases the likelihood of guilty verdict and the effect of protective devices on jury reactions

Method: mock trial based on actual court transcript. pro film crew and actors. 3 versions: open-child full view, child behind screen and video link testimony Sample: 300 college students, equal gender no.s, majority white, middle class, told study of psychology & law, 100 students in each condition

Procedure: pps watched 1/3 versions of court case of alleged abuse- child's father accused defendant. mother, 2 expert witnesses and the child as witnesses. abuse was single touch while giving child bath, innocent or of sexual nature? judge read warning that screen or video used and jury not to imply guilt by their use. after case, pps gave verdict and credibility of child, also rated credibility of defendant 

Key Results: open court:51% guilty, shield:46%, video:49%. guilty verdicts show no significant difference. 58.6% females/38.6% males found defendant guilty. perception of credibility did not differ. more females rating defendant as less credible than males. females rated child as more credible

5 of 6

Ross (1994)

COGNITIVE

Evaluation Points: 

  • determinism vs. free will
  • reductionism vs. holism 

Method issues:

  • low ecological validity for pps
  • ethnocentrism - under US court laws

useful applications when applied to court cases and how protection can affect jury's decision. helps understanding of human phenomenon

ignores other human complexities - deterministic. low in ecological validity - pps cannot feel full arousal felt in courtroom situations 

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