Mock juror perceptions of eyewitnesses versus earwitnesses: Do safeguards help?

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current study examined perceptions of identification testimony as a function of modality (eyewitness versus earwitness), witnessing conditions (good versus poor), and trial safeguards (expert testimony, jury instructions, closing arguments, or none). A total of 426 undergraduate mock jurors read one of 17 trial transcripts, rendered a verdict, and rated the credibility and accuracy of each witness and importance of witnessing factors. Eyewitness and earwitness testimony generally predicted verdict outcome equally. Expert testimony and closing arguments, but not jury instructions, made participants more aware of factors that affect the reliability of an identification when rendering a verdict. When deciding guilt, participants relied primarily on the witness's perceived accuracy and confidence in her identification. We conclude by discussing the policy implications of our results.

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