The goal of this research was to determine whether the size of the incentive (none, small, medium, or large, in terms of sentence reduction) a jailhouse informant receives for testifying, as well as scientific expert testimony regarding the fundamental attribution error, would influence mock juror decisionmaking in a criminal trial involving a secondary confession. Participants read a murder trial transcript involving informant testimony in which incentive size and expert testimony were manipulated and then provided verdict judgments, made attributions for the informant's decision to testify, and rated the informant and expert on a number of dimensions. Neither expert testimony nor size of incentive had a direct influence on verdicts. However, contrary to previous research on the influence of incentives on jurors' perceptions of secondary confessions, the presence of an incentive did influence verdict decisions, informant ratings, and attributional responses. Results imply that jury-eligible community members may be becoming aware of the issues with informant testimony as a function of incentive but that they are insensitive to the size of the incentive, and expert testimony may not sensitize them to the limitations of such testimony.

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Keywords attributions, expert testimony, incentive size, Jury decision-making, secondary confessions
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000106
Journal Law and Human Behavior
Citation
Maeder, E.M, & Pica, E. (Emily). (2014). Secondary Confessions: The Influence (or Lack Thereof) of Incentive Size and Scientific Expert Testimony on Jurors' Perceptions of Informant Testimony. Law and Human Behavior, 38(6), 560–568. doi:10.1037/lhb0000106