Witness Appeal

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2.1 Attractiveness of the defendant

  • Tend to view attractive people as good people
  • implicit personality theory that hypotheses that physically attractive people must have equally attractive personalities
  • seen in the media "good guys" i.e. heroes are often depicited as attractive and the "bad guys" are ugly
  • Psychologists refer to this as "halo effect"- a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait is influenced by another trait
  • suggests that if the defendant is attractive then the jury may find it harder to believe that they commited the crime or if they are guilty, give a smaller sentence
  • may have a negative effect if the offender is seen as using their good looks as an advantage to help commit the crime (fraud)
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2.2 Witness Confidence

  • confident witnesses are more believable and a very powerful influence on jury decisions
  • may be due to fact that giving evidence in court is nerve wracking and so if the witness appears to be sure about what theyre saying then it must be true as they wouldnt be able to lie under pressure
  • a confident witness suggests to jury that they know what they are talking about
  • this is not always true and even though eyewitnesses may be 100% confident they can be 100% wrong
  • one problem is tha witnesses may appear more confident due to the way their evidence has been presented and how they were interviewed by police
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2.3Effects of shield/videotape on children giving

  • In the past, many cases involving children as the only witness collapsed
  • e.g. in 1994 two nursery nurses in newcastle had their cases dropped for **** when the only witnesses were the 3/4 year old children as their evidence was not deemed 'credible' 
  • If evidence is to be given by a child through a live link, or if it is proposed that a supporter sit near the child witness in court, it is a matter for the judge to determine who should accompany the witness.
  • The role of the witness supporter in court is to provide emotional support to the child witness and reduce their anxiety and stress when giving evidence.
  • livelink keeps the child out of the courtroom 
  • child should be made aware that the defendant is still in the courtroom
  • Ideally the supporter at court should be the same person who has supported the child at earlier stages of the proceedings.
  • The supporter should be familiar with court procedure and have no knowledge of the evidence in the case
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Sigall and Ostrove

Defendants attractiveness


High reliability- lab experiment with 120 ppts as mock jurors

high controls- lab experiment 

Restricted sample- 120 participants  

Low in generalisabilty- small sample- cant be applied to all jurors

Low in Ecological Validity- Mock jurors

Quantitative data- ppts recommend a suitable sentence for either theif or fraud case

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Penrod and cutler

The effect of witness confidence on jurors assesment of eyewitness evidence


restricted sample- undergraduate students who are eligable for jury service used 

low ecological validity- lab experiment and mock trial

High controls means High reliabilty- lab experimen, replicable

Low validity- not a real decision being made by jurors as not a real robbery case

less bias= more validity- randomly allocated to different conditions 

More valid- real decision jurors would make (guilty/ not guilty)

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Ross et al

The impact of protective shields on conviction rates


low in ecological validity- mock trial of sexual abuse trial

high controls- lab experiment means high in reliability

high demand characteristics - 300 psychology students

mundane realism- taken in by the trial as it was a video of a court trial

high usefulness- jury needs equal no. of males and females so it does not impact on the case as results showed females said guilty more due to maternal instincts

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