CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Study States that Over Confident Witnesses Can Hurt More than the Under Confident

A new study authored in part by a University of California Professor Robert J. MacCoun of public policy and law throws cold water on a common theory that a confident witness who errs in trial testimony is still more credible than a less confident witness who similarly slips up.

The researchers concluded that self-assured witnesses who make a mistake - even on issues of little importance - undermine their credibility by raising doubts about their competency, their ability to judge their own abilities and their motivations.

"People giving testimony, or advice, or opinions should therefore be careful to express appropriate degrees of confidence in their assertions," the researchers write in a summary of their report in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science. "Otherwise, the 13th stroke of the clock will cast the other 12 in doubt."

The researchers included Robert J. MacCoun of UC Berkeley, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and at the School of Law (Boalt Hall); Elizabeth Tenney, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Virginia; Barbara Spellman, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia; and Reid Hastie, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago.

MacCoun said the team's findings challenge the frequent tendency of attorneys to pressure their witnesses to project a strong sense of confidence and to minimize the use of hedges like "I think" or "maybe." Academic experts encounter similar pressures when asked to testify before policy makers, he said. But this first-of-its-kind study shows that such a strategy can backfire if a cocky witness gets caught in a mistake. Rest of Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

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What about Judges and law enforcement identity theft ring with the FBI ignoring all documented.

Posted by: Janson | Mar 14, 2007 12:08:30 PM

An important distinction is that rich people buy luxuries last, while the poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first

Posted by: MYADVANCEPAY | Mar 17, 2007 8:38:15 PM

Senator Tim Johnson's 2001 letter to the SD Attorney Generals office informing the State of identity theft and social security number fraud. Tom Barnett did nothing as the person doing the felonies was on State probation. As anyone can read was using fake social security numbers to commit felonies in 2002.

The rich and powerful covering up crimes. Anyone who uses the big box stores, credit cards, bank loans pay for the rich covering up crimes.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 15, 2007 9:09:21 PM

The person known as "Jason" is actually Mike Wagner of Yankton, SD and he is a known psychopath with a restraining order against him for posting these claims. He calls his children "whores" and post his stalking ilk anywhere that it is free to post.

Posted by: Bubba | Aug 12, 2007 8:28:03 AM

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