University of Tasmania
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Hypothesis disconfirmation : improving mock-juror sensitivity to confession evidence

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:06 authored by Port, MEH
The present study investigated the extent to which mock-jurors are able to recognise factual inconsistencies in confession evidence. To assist this, a hypothesis disconfirmation intervention was trialled, as a method of improving sensitivity, and reducing judgements of guilt when a confession is unreliable (Brewer, Keast & Rishworth, 2002). Two hundred and eighty-three participants (197 female, 4 other; aged 18-78 years, `M` = 32.9, `SD` = 13.55) were randomly allocated to one of six conditions on the basis of variation in confession consistency, and the presence or absence of the hypothesis disconfirmation. Content of confessions varied in consistency with police facts of the case across three conditions (consistent, small inconsistencies, large inconsistencies). After viewing a police report and confession statement, the hypothesis disconfirmation intervention required participants to generate alternative explanations for the suspect confessing, without having committed the crime; prior to provision of verdict. Results supported an error sensitivity perspective (cf. insensitivity perspective), which purports that jurors are better at recognising inconsistencies than previously acknowledged (Henderson & Levett, 2016; Palmer, Button, Barnett & Brewer, 2016; Woesetehoff & Meissner, 2016). Evidence for the hypothesis disconfirmation was not sufficient to warrant a convincing interpretation, however patterns of results were promising. Implications for theory, research and practice are discussed.


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Copyright 2016 the author

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