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The variable influence of confession inconsistencies: how factual errors (but not contradictions) reduce belief in suspect guilt

Citation

Holt, GA and Palmer, MA, The variable influence of confession inconsistencies: how factual errors (but not contradictions) reduce belief in suspect guilt, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35, (1) pp. 232-242. ISSN 0888-4080 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1002/acp.3757

Abstract

Wrongful conviction statistics suggest that jurors pay little heed to the quality of confession evidence when making verdict decisions. However, recent research indicates that confession inconsistencies may sometimes reduce perception of suspect guilt. Drawing on theoretical frameworks of attribution theory, correspondence bias, and the story model of juror decision-making, we investigated how judgments about likely guilt are affected by different types of inconsistencies: self-contradictions (Experiment 1) and factual errors (Experiment 2). Crucially, judgments of likely guilt of the suspect were reduced by factual errors in confession evidence, but not by contradictions. Mediation analyses suggest that this effect of factual errors on judgments of guilt is underpinned by the extent to which mock-jurors generated a plausible, alternative explanation for why the suspect confessed. These results indicate that not all confession inconsistencies are treated equally; factual errors might cause suspicion about the veracity of the confession, but contradictions do not.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:confessions, wrongful conviction, juror decisions, attribution, suspicion
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Forensic psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Palmer, MA (Associate Professor Matt Palmer)
ID Code:141696
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2020-11-11
Last Modified:2021-05-12
Downloads:0

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