Featured research (4)
Layperson perceptions of explicit and implicit witness interviewing tactics were examined. Canadian residents ( N = 293) read an interview transcript that contained a tactic (i.e., explicit threat or promise, one of four types of minimization, or no tactic) that aimed to persuade the witness to change his account. Participants were then asked to rate the amount of trouble the witness would be in if he (a) changed his account and (b) retained his original account, as well as their perceptions of the witness, interviewer, and tactic. Results showed that participants who viewed a tactic believed the witness would be in less trouble if he changed his account than if he retained his original account. All leniency-related strategies (i.e., explicit leniency and all minimization tactics) were rated as somewhat acceptable and respectful, frequently used, and legal for police to employ. Implications of these findings for witness interviewing are discussed.
Perceptions of the use of coercive tactics in witness interviews were examined. Canadian community members ( N = 293) were asked to read a transcript of a witness interview that included either (a) threats/overt coercion, (b) minimization/covert coercion, or (c) no coercion, and answer questions about the interview. Participants rated the threat transcript as being the most coercive, containing the most pressure, involving the most serious consequences for withholding information, and eliciting the most negative feelings from witnesses. Conversely, the minimization transcript tended to be rated less negatively than the threat transcript and was also rated as being the most effective for gathering information. Results indicate that laypeople recognize the issues with explicitly coercive police tactics, but are less clear on the problems with subtler forms of coercion. The implications for the truth-seeking function of the justice system and the role of expert testimony in the courtroom are discussed.
- Department of Psychology
About Brent Snook
- The research in my Lab pertains to the study of human behaviour within the criminal justice system. We aim to advance legal and scientific literacy within the criminal justice system and conduct research that improves the administration of justice.