Date of Award
Master of Science
This research examined whether a criminal confession causes people to discount subsequently encountered exculpatory evidence. Participants (N = 238) read a crime report across two phases and judged a suspect's guilt after each phase. In phase 1, the crime report presented circumstantial evidence indicative of the suspect's guilt. In phase 2, exculpatory evidence indicative of the suspect's innocence was added. The crime report manipulated whether participants received confession evidence during phase 1 (confession–early) or phase 2 (confession–late). In addition, some participants publicly committed to their phase 1 guilt judgments prior to receiving the crime report in phase 2 (high commitment), whereas others did not (low commitment). Results provided some support for the hypothesis that a confession biases the way that people use subsequently encountered exculpatory evidence to judge a suspect’s guilt; under conditions of low commitment, participants more often rendered guilty verdicts in the confession–early conditions than the confession–late conditions. The results are discussed in terms of police investigator and juror decision-making.
More, Curt, "Belief perseverance: The staying power of confession evidence" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16421.