Intelligence, Authority, and Blame Conformity: Co-witness Influence Is Moderated by the Perceived Competence of the Information Source

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Abstract

Previous research suggests that co-witness influence is heavily dependent on how eyewitnesses perceive the source of information, with perceived credibility, authority and memory accuracy identified as significant predictors. However, very little research has directly investigated the effects of perceived intelligence on co-witness influence. The present study used confederates to expose participants (N = 182) to misinformation about a witnessed event, prior to collecting their statements. Participants were paired up with a confederate who was presented as either a PhD student (high intelligence), police officer (high authority), neutral (no information provided); or completed the study individually (control). Results found that participants were significantly more likely to blame the wrong person for the crime if it had been suggested to them by a police officer or PhD student. Implications of the findings suggest that the characteristics and perceptions of co-witnesses can moderate the risks of statement contamination.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Early online date11 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2019

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