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Module C: Social Psych in Court very detailed lecture notes including explanations of all video clips, class demonstrations, and exercises.

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Emiko Yoshida

Social Psychology in Court Mystery  Clip – rape of Jennifer – identified rapist as Cotton, sentenced to life in prison, DNA proved that other man was real rapist  Why did Jennifer misidentify the perpetrator? How could this be prevented?  Eyewitness is very persuasive (“I saw the person” – no reason for her to lie)  However, memories are malleable and tend to be influenced by various factors – misinformation effect, feedback  People tend to believe confident eyewitnesses Eyewitness Testimony  Very persuasive but not reliable  Faulty memory is the major cause of wrongful convictions – in 180 cases DNA evidence exonerated someone; 75% of these cases, conviction was because of faulty eyewitness identification  Jurors and law enforcement professionals rely on eyewitnesses  Study – Loftus, 1975, 1979  3 conditions in robbery/murder case: 1. Circumstantial evidence only 2. Circumstantial evidence plus eyewitness declaring “That’s the one!” 3. Circumstantial evidence, eyewitness declaring “that’s the one!” defense lawyer discredits witness because of bad vision  DV: percentage voting to convict  Results: o 20% voted to convict with only circumstantial evidence o 70% with circumstantial + eye witness o Even if witness was discredited, still a high percentage voted to convict o Eye witnesses tend to be persuasive even when:  Condition is poor  Provided detailed but unrelated information Why are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong?  Clip – Whodunit – 21 changes in scenery throughout the clip  Information people notice and pay attention to is also influenced by what they expect to see  Crime usually occurs when you are not expecting it – easy to miss critical information when witness a crime  Research has confirmed that people are poor at noticing the unexpected Weapon Focus  Focus on a weapon – salient  When people pay attention to the salient weapon they have an inability to remember other details (ex. criminal’s face)  Study – 2 conditions: a customer pointed a gun at the cashier vs. handed the cahier a cheque  People paid more attention to the gun than to the cheque  Worse memory of the suspect’s face in the gun condition than in the cheque condition Misinformation Effect  Remembering wrong information  Study – 2 (signs: stop vs. yield) x 2 (asked question about: stop vs. yield)  Car stopped at a stop sign vs. yield sign  “Did another car pass the car while it was stopped at the stop/yield sign?”  Asked which photo they saw  People were only 41% correct when they saw a stop sign but were asked about a yield sign, or they saw a yield sign but were asked about a stop sign  Denied seeing what th
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