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

Holt, GA and Palmer, MA ORCID: 0000-0002-3467-3364 2020 , 'The variable influence of confession inconsistencies: How factual errors (but not contradictions) reduce belief in suspect guilt' , Applied Cognitive Psychology , pp. 1-11 , doi: 10.1002/acp.3757.

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Abstract

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

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Holt, GA and Palmer, MA
Keywords: confessions, wrongful conviction, juror decisions, attribution, suspicion
Journal or Publication Title: Applied Cognitive Psychology
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN: 0888-4080
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/acp.3757
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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