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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2012;40(4):488-97.

Warmth and competence on the witness stand: implications for the credibility of male and female expert witnesses.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, WSH 8C, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


In this study, we examined how manipulations of likeability and knowledge affected mock jurors' perceptions of female and male expert witness credibility (n = 290). Our findings extend the person-perception literature by demonstrating how warmth and competence overlap with existing conceptions of likeability and knowledge in the psycholegal domain. We found that experts high in likeability, knowledge, or both were perceived equally positively, regardless of gender, in a death penalty sentencing context. Gender differences emerged when the expert was low in likeability or knowledge. In these conditions the male expert was perceived more positively than the comparable female expert. Although intermediate judgments (e.g., perceptions of credibility) were affected by our manipulations, ultimate decisions (e.g., sentencing) were not. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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