The influence of lawyers' questions on witness accuracy, confidence and reaction times and on mock-jurors' interpretation of witness accuracy
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Two studies demonstrate the influence of lawyers' complex questions on mock-witness accuracy, confidence, and reaction times and on the interpretation of witness accuracy by mock jurors. In study one, 32 mock witnesses were shown a short film and then questioned either with lawyers' complex questions or simple alternatives. In Study 2, 20 mock jurors viewed video footage of the mock witnesses assigned to each of the two previous conditions and were asked to rate their confidence in the witnesses' answers. The findings of the two studies indicated that lawyers' use of confusing questions reduce not only accuracy but also speed of response and both witnesses' and jurors' ability to determine accuracy. The implication of these findings is straightforward, lawyers should ask simple questions wherever possible.
Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Copyright 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: The influence of lawyers' questions on witness accuracy, confidence and reaction times and on mock-jurors' interpretation of witness accuracy, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 7(3), 2010, pp. 261-271, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jip.125