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Law Hum Behav. 2008 Apr;32(2):164-76. Epub 2007 Sep 15.

"I had a confidence epiphany!": Obstacles to combating post-identification confidence inflation.

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  • 1Psychological Sciences Building, Purdue University, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2081, USA.


Research shows that eyewitnesses often become more confident with their selections from a lineup over time, a problem labeled "confidence inflation." Wells et al. (1998) Law and Human Behavior, 22, 603-647 suggested that eyewitnesses provide a confidence statement immediately following their selection to capture an unadulterated measure of confidence. Three experiments tested the effectiveness of introducing such a statement to combat the effects of confidence inflation on mock-juror judgments. All experiments provided evidence that the attributions participants formed about the eyewitness' confidence inflation differentially impacted their judgments. Although mock-jurors generally discredited eyewitnesses who showed confidence inflation and sometimes lowered probability of guilt ratings for the defendant, a clear exception occurred when mock-jurors attributed the inflation to an epiphany. Use of post-identification confidence statements to decrease the impact of confidence inflation in the courtroom may be insufficient.

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