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Law Hum Behav. 2004 Aug;28(4):369-87.

When does evidence of eyewitness confidence inflation affect judgments in a criminal trial?.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine 04240, USA.


Two studies investigated perceptions of eyewitness confidence inflation: increases in a witness's confidence between the time of the identification and the trial. Experiment 1 (N = 90) demonstrated that, for White participants, assessments of the strength of the defense case, the eyewitness's view, and participants' confidence in the eyewitness's accuracy were more favorable to the defense when there was evidence that the eyewitness's confidence increased over time (mere inflation condition), compared with a control condition. In addition, assessments of the defendant's guilt and the eyewitness's accuracy were more favorable to the defense when the eyewitness was aggressively challenged about the change in her confidence report (inflation + challenge). Experiment 2 (N = 360) demonstrated that, for Hispanic participants, sensitivity to confidence inflation did not interact with manipulations of the eyewitness's or defendant's race (White vs. Hispanic). In addition, the confidence inflation effect did not replicate with the Hispanic participants. Results are interpreted in terms of the ingroup bias in legal judgments and directions for future research.

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