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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1980;347:27-37.

Psychological aspects of courtroom testimony.


As jurors in a criminal or civil trial listen to testimony, they construct in their minds an "image" of an incident that was never witnessed by them. Many psychological factors influence this mental construction and, consequently, the verdict. Research with experimental jurors has revealed: 1. The images that jurors construct are influenced by the particular words and phrases that are used in the testimony they hear. 2. Jurors tend to be overbelieving of certain types of evidence, such as eyewitness testimony. Jurors are particularly responsive to the confidence with which eyewitnesses relate their testimony, rather than to the likelihood that the testimony is accurate. 3. Expert testimony, particularly on the subject of the reliability of eyewitness accounts, can cause jurors to better scrutinize the evidence they hear.

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