Does expert psychological testimony inform or influence juror decision making? A social cognitive analysis

Margaret Bull Kovera, Eugene Borgida, April W. Gresham, Ellen Gray, Pamela C. Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined whether expert testimony serves an educational or a persuasive function. Participants watched a simulated sexual abuse trial in which the child witness had been prepared for her testimony (i.e., she was calm, composed, and confident) or unprepared (i.e., emotional, confused, and uncertain). The trial contained different levels of expert testimony: none, standard (i.e., a summary of the research), repetitive (i.e., standard testimony plus a 2nd summary of the research), or concrete (i.e., standard testimony plus a hypothetical scenario linking the research to the case facts) testimony. Repetitive testimony bolstered the child's testimony, whereas concrete and standard testimony did not. Concrete testimony sensitized jurors to behavioral correlates of sexual victimization; standard and repetitive testimony desensitized jurors to these correlates. Implications for the use of procedural innovations in sexual abuse trials are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-190
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1997

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