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Social Psychology Elliot Aronson University of California, Santa Cruz Timothy D. Wilson University of Virginia Robin M. Akert Wellesley College slides.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Psychology Elliot Aronson University of California, Santa Cruz Timothy D. Wilson University of Virginia Robin M. Akert Wellesley College slides."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Psychology Elliot Aronson University of California, Santa Cruz Timothy D. Wilson University of Virginia Robin M. Akert Wellesley College slides by Travis Langley Henderson State University 6th edition

2 Chapter 16 Social Psychology and the Law “No subjective feeling of certainty can be an objective criterion for the desired truth.” — Hugo Münsterberg, On the Witness Stand, 1908 Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

3 EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY If an eyewitness fingers you as the culprit, you are quite likely to be convicted, even if considerable circumstantial evidence indicates that you are innocent. The Innocence Project reports 180 cases in which DNA evidence exonerated someone after being convicted of a crime. In 75% of these cases, the conviction was based on faulty eyewitness identification.

4 EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY Jurors and law enforcement professionals rely heavily on eyewitness testimony when they are deciding whether someone is guilty. Unfortunately, jurors tend to overestimate the accuracy of eyewitnesses. Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

5 The accuracy of eyewitness identification depends on the viewing conditions at the time the crime was committed. As in this study, however, most jurors believe that witnesses can correctly identify the criminal even when viewing conditions are poor.

6 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? Our minds are not like video cameras, which can record an event, store it over time, and play it back later with perfect accuracy. Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

7 To be an accurate eyewitness, people must complete three stages of memory processing. Error may creep in at each of the three stages.

8 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? When Loftus and Harley (2005) showed photographs to research participants, they found that accuracy in identifying the celebrities began to drop when the simulated distance exceeded 25 feet. At 34 feet only 75% of the participants recognized the face. At 77 feet, only 25% of the participants did so.

9 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? When eyewitnesses are the victims of a crime they will be terribly afraid, and this alone can make it difficult to take in everything that is happening. 1.The more stress people are under, the worse their memory for people involved in and the details of a crime. 2.Crime victims focus attention mostly on any weapon they see and less on the suspect’s features. If someone points a gun at you, your attention is likely to be more on the gun than on whether the robber has blue or brown eyes. Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

10 Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

11 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? The information people notice and pay attention to is also influenced by what they expect to see. Research has confirmed that people are poor at noticing the unexpected. Among all the guns in the previous slides, how many gorillas did you notice? The guns may have distracted you, plus you weren’t expecting gorillas.

12 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? Even if we notice a person or event we might not remember it very well, if we are unfamiliar with it. Own-Race Bias The fact that people are better at recognizing faces of their own race than those of other races.

13 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? College students were found to be better at recognizing faces of people their own age than faces of middle-aged people. Middle-aged people were better at recognizing faces of people their own age than faces of college students.

14 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? There is evidence that when people examine same-race faces, they pay close attention to individuating features that distinguish that face from others. When people examine different-race faces, however, they are drawn more to features that distinguish that face from their own race, rather than individuating features.

15 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? There is evidence that when people examine same-race faces, they pay close attention to individuating features that distinguish that face from others. When people examine different-race faces, however, they are drawn more to features that distinguish that face from their own race, rather than individuating features. Because people usually have less experience with features that characterize individuals of other races, they find it more difficult to tell members of that race apart.

16 Storage Memories, like photographs, fade with age. People can get mixed up about where they heard or saw something; memories in one “album” can get confused with memories in another. As a result, people can have quite inaccurate recall about what they saw. Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

17 Storage Reconstructive Memory The process whereby memories of an event become distorted by information encountered after the event occurred. Reconstructive Memory The process whereby memories of an event become distorted by information encountered after the event occurred. Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

18 Storage Elizabeth Loftus showed students thirty slides depicting different stages of an automobile accident. The content of one slide varied: Some students saw a car stopped at a stop sign. Others saw the same car stopped at a yield sign. Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

19 Storage If they had seen a stop sign and were asked about a stop sign, 75% correctly identified the stop sign photograph. (Note that 25% made a crucial mistake on what would seem to be an easy question!) However, of those who had received a misleading question (e.g., asked if they’d seen a yield sign after shown a stop sign), only 41 percent chose the correct photograph. Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

20 Storage In subsequent experiments, Loftus and her colleagues found that misleading questions can change people’s minds about: –How fast a car was going –Whether broken glass was at the scene of an accident –Whether a traffic light was green or red –Whether a robber had a mustache Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

21 Storage Although some controversy exists over the answer to this question most researchers endorse the following position: Misleading questions cause a problem with source monitoring, the process people use to try to identify the source of their memories. When information gets stored in memory, it is not always well “tagged” as to where it came from.

22 Retrieval Identification errors from police lineups are the most common cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. A number of things other than the image of a person that is stored in memory can influence whether eyewitnesses will pick someone out of a lineup. Witnesses often choose the person in a lineup who most resembles the criminal, even if the resemblance is not very strong. Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

23 To avoid the “best guess” problem, where witnesses pick the person who looks most like the suspect, psychologists recommend police follow these steps: 1.Make sure everyone in the lineup resembles the witness’s description of the suspect. 2.Tell the witnesses that the person suspected of the crime may or may not be in the lineup. 3.Do not always include the suspect in an initial lineup. 4.Make sure that the person conducting the lineup does not know which person in the lineup is the suspect.

24 To avoid the “best guess” problem, where witnesses pick the person who looks most like the suspect, psychologists recommend police follow these steps: 5.Ask witnesses how confident they are that they can identify the suspect before they receive any feedback about their lineup performance. 6.Present pictures of people sequentially instead of simultaneously. 7.Present witnesses with both photographs of people and sound recordings of their voices. 8.Composite face programs should perhaps be avoided.

25 Judging Whether Eyewitnesses Are Mistaken Although people are more ready to believe someone who is confident about a memory, confidence is not a good predictor of accuracy. Confident identifications by witnesses and victims have led to convictions of innocent people, some of whom served many years before additional evidence exonerated them.

26 Why Doesn’t Certainty Mean Accuracy? The things that influence people’s confidence are not necessarily the same things that influence their accuracy. Example: After identifying a suspect, a person’s confidence increases if he or she finds out that other witnesses identified the same suspect and decreases if he or she finds out that other witnesses identified a different suspect.

27 Responding Quickly Accurate witnesses in one study tended to say that they didn’t really know how they recognized the man, that his face just “popped out” at them. Inaccurate witnesses tended to say that they used a process of elimination, deliberately comparing one face to another. Ironically, taking more time and thinking more carefully about the pictures were associated with making more mistakes. People who made their choice within 10 seconds and expressed very high confidence in their judgment were especially likely to be correct.

28 The Problem with Verbalization Trying to put an image of a face into words can make people's memory worse. After writing that someone had “squinty” eyes, you look for eyes that are squinty, and doing so interferes with your attention to the finer details of the faces. If you ever witness a crime, then, you should not try to put into words what the criminal looked like.

29 Judging Whether Witnesses Are Lying Even if witnesses have very accurate memories for what they saw, they might deliberately lie when on the witness stand. If a witness was lying, why couldn’t the jurors tell? How accurate are people at detecting deception? Not very, as it turns out.

30 Judging Whether Witnesses Are Lying Interestingly, people with a lot of experience in dealing with liars (e.g., law enforcement agents and employees of the CIA) are no more accurate at detecting deception than college students. It is harder to detect whether someone is lying than we might think--even if we are a seasoned police officer or judge.

31 Can Polygraph Machines Tell if People are Lying? Polygraph A machine that measures people’s physiological responses (e.g., their heart rate). Polygraph operators attempt to tell if someone is lying by observing that person’s physiological responses while answering questions. Polygraph A machine that measures people’s physiological responses (e.g., their heart rate). Polygraph operators attempt to tell if someone is lying by observing that person’s physiological responses while answering questions. Source of image:

32 Can Polygraph Machines Tell if People are Lying? Averaging over dozens of studies, people were correctly labeled as lying or telling the truth 86% of the time. This still allows for a substantial number of errors, including false positives, where people who are telling the truth are incorrectly labeled as liars.

33 Can Polygraph Machines Tell if People are Lying? Averaging over dozens of studies, people were correctly labeled as lying or telling the truth 86% of the time. This still allows for a substantial number of errors, including false positives, where people who are telling the truth are incorrectly labeled as liars. Think of it this way: If you were wrongly accused of a serious crime, would you be willing to take a test that had a 14% chance of landing you in prison? Think of it this way: If you were wrongly accused of a serious crime, would you be willing to take a test that had a 14% chance of landing you in prison? Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

34 Can Polygraph Machines Tell if People are Lying? Researchers continue to try to develop better lie detectors, using such measures as: –Patterns of brain waves –Where people look involuntarily –Blood flow in the face using So far, however, none of these measures has proved to be any better than the polygraph.

35 A concern with all physiological measures of deception is whether guilty people can learn to beat the tests. There is some evidence that people can deliberately act in ways that reduce the validity of the results of polygraph tests, such as biting their tongue and doing mental arithmetic. The search continues, but there is still no perfect lie detection machine that can always differentiate lies from the truth. Source of images:

36 Can Eyewitness Testimony Be Improved? Given the importance of such testimony in criminal trials, are there ways to improve it? Two general approaches have been tried, but neither has proved very successful: 1.Hypnosis 2.Cognitive Interview Cognitive Interview A technique whereby trained interviewers try to improve witnesses’ memories by focusing attention on event details and context.

37 The Recovered Memory Debate Another form of eyewitness memory has received a great deal of attention: the case in which a person recalls having been the victim of a crime, typically sexual abuse, after many years of being consciously unaware of that fact. The accuracy of such recovered memories has been hotly debated.

38 The Recovered Memory Debate In 1988, Paul Ingram’s daughters accused him of sexual abuse, satanic rituals, and murder, events they claimed to have recalled suddenly years after they occurred. The police could find no evidence for the crimes, and Ingram initially denied that they had ever occurred. Eventually, though, he became convinced that he, too, must have repressed his past behavior and that he must have committed the crimes, even though he could not remember having done so. According to experts who have studied this case, Ingram’s daughters genuinely believed that the abuse and killing had occurred—but they were wrong. Things they thought they remembered were actually false memories.

39 The Recovered Memory Debate False Memory Syndrome Remembering a past traumatic experience that is objectively false but nevertheless accepted as true. There is evidence that people can acquire vivid memories of events that never occurred, especially if another person— such as a psychotherapist—suggests that the events occurred.

40 The Recovered Memory Debate Unfortunately, some psychotherapists do not sufficiently consider that by suggesting past abuse, they may be planting false memories rather than helping clients remember real events. This is not to say, however, that all recovered memories are inaccurate. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to distinguish the accurate memories from the false ones in the absence of any corroborating evidence.

41 JURIES: GROUP PROCESSES IN ACTION

42 How Jurors Process Trial Information Some psychologists suggest that jurors decide on one story that best explains all the evidence. They then try to fit this story to the possible verdicts they are allowed to render, and if one of those verdicts fits well with their preferred story, they are likely to vote to convict on that charge.

43 How Jurors Process Trial Information Lawyers typically present the evidence in one of two ways. 1.Story Order: They present the evidence in the sequence in which the events occurred, corresponding as closely as possible to the story they want the jurors to believe. 2.Witness Order They present witnesses in the sequence they think will have the greatest impact, even if this means that events are described out of order.

44 How Jurors Process Trial Information Pennington & Hastie (1988) When the prosecutor used story order and the defense used witness order, the jurors were most likely to believe the prosecutor. 78% voted to convict. When the prosecutor used witness order and the defense used story order, the tables were turned. Only 31% voted to convict. One reason the conviction rate in felony trials in America is so high (about 80%), prosecutors usually present evidence in story order, whereas defense attorneys usually use witness order. If you are a budding lawyer, remember this when you are preparing for your first trial! Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

45 The problem with some confessions is that they are NOT autobiographical at all, but false.

46 Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem? Thirteen years after the highly publicized brutal rape of the "Central Park jogger," Matias Reyes, in prison for three rapes and a murder, confessed to the crime, reporting he had acted alone. His DNA matched semen recovered from the victim (none of the teenagers' DNA matched), and he gave details of the crime scene that were known only to the police. In 2002 a judge vacated the convictions of five boys who had confessed to the crime.

47 Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem? If the boys were innocent, then why did they confess to the crime? The interrogation process can go wrong in ways that elicit false confessions, even to the point where innocent suspects come to believe that they actually did commit the crime. One problem is that police investigators are often convinced that the suspect is guilty, and this belief biases how they conduct the interrogation.

48 Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem? Investigators often use tactics to elicit confessions, such as telling people that an eyewitness had seen them commit the crime. After hours of prolonged interrogation, innocent people can become so fatigued that they don't know what to think, and may even come to believe that they are guilty of the crime. In fact, in a large number of cases in which DNA evidence exonerated defendants who had been falsely convicted of a crime, the defendant had confessed. Source of image:

49 Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem? One solution to coerced confessions is requiring that interrogations be videotaped. Thus, a jury can view the recording and judge for themselves whether the defendant was coerced into admitted things he or she didn't do. Source of image:

50 Deliberations in the Jury Room After hours of jury deliberation, those initially in the minority opinion tend to go with the initial majority. In 97% of jury decisions! Source of image: Nevertheless, while a minority of jurors are unlikely to convince a majority of jurors to change their verdict from first-degree murder to not guilty, they might well convince the majority to change the verdict to a lesser charge.

51 Jury Size: Are Twelve Heads Better than Six? Although juries have traditionally been composed of twelve people, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1970 that there was nothing sacrosanct about this number and allowed smaller juries in some cases. Source of images:

52 Jury Size: Are Twelve Heads Better than Six? One problem with small juries is that they reduce the probability that minority members will be represented. Remember the Asch experiments: If you dissent from the majority even when you know you are right, you are more likely to persist if you have an ally. Most social psychologists who have conducted research in this area believe that all juries should consist of 12 people. Source of image:

53 WHY DO PEOPLE OBEY THE LAW?

54 Do Severe Penalties Deter Crime? Deterrence Theory The idea that threat of legal punishment causes people to refrain from criminal activity as long as the punishment is perceived as relatively severe, certain, and swift. Deterrence Theory The idea that threat of legal punishment causes people to refrain from criminal activity as long as the punishment is perceived as relatively severe, certain, and swift. The U.S. crime rate has gone down. But why?

55 Do Severe Penalties Deter Crime? Some experts have attributed these promising trends to, among other things, stiffer penalties for crimes. Others have suggested that the drop in violent crime is due not to stiffer penalties but to the fact that the population of adolescents and young adults, who are most responsible for violent crimes, has been declining in the past few years.

56 Do Severe Penalties Deter Crime? You might decide not to speed when the fines are high and your road is frequently patrolled by police. But what about crimes that are less likely to involve rational decisions? Like murder? Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.

57 Do Severe Penalties Deter Crime? A number of studies have compared the murder rates in American states that have the death penalty with those that do not, compared the murder rates in American states before and after they adopted the death penalty, and compared the murder rates in other countries before and after they adopted the death penalty. The results are unambiguous: There is no evidence that the death penalty prevents murders.

58 Procedural Justice: People’s Sense of Fairness People will obey a law if they think it is just, even if it is unlikely that they will be caught for breaking it. What determines whether people think a law is just? Procedural Justice People’s judgments about the fairness of the procedures used to determine outcomes, such as whether they are innocent or guilty of a crime. Procedural Justice People’s judgments about the fairness of the procedures used to determine outcomes, such as whether they are innocent or guilty of a crime.

59 In sum, social psychological research indicates that the American legal system can go wrong in a number of ways: Juries rely heavily on eyewitness testimony when in fact such testimony is often in error. Determining when witnesses are telling the truth is difficult, even with the use of polygraphs Because juries are groups trying to reach consensus by discussing, arguing, and bargaining, conformity pressures and group processes can lead to faulty decisions. Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.

60 Social Psychology Elliot Aronson University of California, Santa Cruz Timothy D. Wilson University of Virginia Robin M. Akert Wellesley College slides by Travis Langley Henderson State University 6th edition Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.


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