Term of Award

Summer 1994

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

William McIntosh

Committee Member 1

Richard Rogers

Committee Member 2

John Murray

Abstract

The effects of trivial details on subjects' perception of eyewitness expertise were examined. Prior research indicated that the perceived memory and perceived confidence of the eyewitness were suggested as two possible influences on perceptions of the eyewitness' expertise. In order to examine these influences, a 2 X 2 X 2 between-subjects design was employed where the amount of trivial detail (high vs. low), memory of the eyewitness (strong vs. weak), and confidence of the eyewitness (high vs. low) were manipulated. The dependent variables were the perception of the guilt of the defendant, and the perception of the accuracy, competence, and consistency of the eyewitness. The experimenter failed to find an effect for trivial detail effect on guilt, or any of the expertise judgments. However, subjects rated the defendant as less guilty when the eyewitness had both strong memory and high confidence than when the eyewitness did not have both strong memory and high confidence. The same pattern was found for both the accuracy and competence judgments but not for the consistency judgments. Implications and future research are discussed.

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