Article

Don’t Stop Believing: The Relative Impact of Internal Alibi Details on Judgments of Veracity

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Abstract

The relative impact of five alibi components on the assessment of alibi veracity was investigated using a policy-capturing methodology. Participants (N = 115) were instructed to assume the role of a homicide investigator and evaluate 32 alibis that varied on five dichotomous variables: Salaciousness; Legality; Change in Details; Superfluous Details; and Specific Details. Participants evaluated the believability of each alibi, and the likelihood of the alibi provider’s guilt. Results indicated that participants tended to disbelieve suspects when illegal or salacious behaviours were mentioned within the alibi. Few decision policies contained Change in Details, Superfluous Details, or Specific Details. The potential implications for alibi assessments during police investigations are discussed.

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... In the first study on salacious alibis, an increase of the alibi believability was found . That effect has not been replicated and recently it was shown that salacious alibis can be less believable than nonsalacious alibis (Keeping, Eastwood, Lively, & Snook, 2017). It remains unclear how the salaciousness of the alibi can affect its believability and it can be questioned if the effect is limited to salacious alibis or can be generalized to the content of shameful behaviour (e.g., cross-dressing). ...
... However, that effect has not been replicated . Keeping, Eastwood, Lively, and Snook (2017) found that a salacious alibi even led to disbelieving the suspect. Those findings are congruent with the results described in ...
... whereas initially it was found that a salacious alibi would be more believable than a nonsalacious alibi , no such effect was found in follow-up studies or salacious alibis were found to be even less believable than a non-salacious alibi (Keeping et al., 2017; Chapter 6 of this dissertation). The mixed results might be explained by the fact that all of the salacious alibis were different (e.g., watching a porn movie, having an affair) and that the presented mock-crime varied (e.g., armed robbery, sexual assault). ...
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A correct alibi evaluation has the potential to exclude an innocent person as a suspect at the beginning of the proceedings. However, wrongful conviction cases demonstrate that such evaluations are not flawless. In addition, the scarce research on topic of alibis predominately includes students as participants instead of police detectives who are in practice the first to assess the suspect’s alibi’s believability. Therefore, the current thesis aims at bridging the knowledge gap between alibi research and how the believability of alibis is determined in practice. Based on five studies, using ecological representative samples, the results in this dissertation show that both generating a believable alibi and subsequently determining an alibi’s believability in practice are a difficult task. The validity of an alibi’s assessment may benefit from taking into account the content of the alibi, the feasibility of (strong) supportive evidence and the fallibility of the suspect’s memory. In addition, the alibi and the supportive evidence should be evaluated in the broader context of the case and in light of what evidence can be expected from an innocent suspect during that timeframe
... salaciousness) and their legality (e.g. Allison et al., 2012;Keeping et al., 2017). Alibis may have elements of all three or some combination of them. ...
... The type of crime affected prison sentences but type of crime and salaciousness did not interact. In another salaciousness study involving a homicide, the researchers included a variety of alibis that varied in terms of sexual salaciousness, legality and consistency (Keeping et al., 2017). For example, some alibi activities involved illegal behavior like insider trading, others involved sexually salacious behaviors like calling a sex hotline, and some were both illegal and sexually salacious (e.g. ...
... Neutral alibis in the immediate condition were more believable than salacious alibis, confirming some past studies (e.g. Jung et al., 2013;Keeping et al., 2017). However, when alibis were presented a second time, salacious alibis were now the more believable ones when compared with neutral alibis. ...
... For example, Jung et al. (2013) found that defendants with salacious alibis were viewed negatively on several character trait measures compared to defendants with nonsalacious alibis, but only when the defendant had no physical evidence to corroborate his alibi. Similarly, Keeping et al. (2017) found that people who admitted to engaging in other illegal activities at the time of the crime had lower alibi believability ratings. In one condition in Nieuwkamp et al. (2016), when the alibi was presented immediately, the nonsalacious alibis were more believable than the salacious alibis. ...
... These findings suggest that suspects or defendants who claim not to have committed the crime because they were elsewhere doing something salacious leads to a negativity bias. That is, the negative and salacious acts that suspects admit to engaging in at the time of the crime may be weighed heavily against them (Keeping et al., 2017). ...
... Therefore, the evaluation of an alibi can greatly influence belief in a suspect's guilt or innocence in the early stages of an investigation. Substantial research has focused on various factors that affect the believability of alibis (Culhane & Hosch, 2004;Dahl & Price, 2012;Dysart & Strange, 2012;Eastwood et al., 2016;Keeping et al., 2017;Olson & Wells, 2004;Rozmann & Nahari, 2020, 2021Snow & Warren, 2018). ...
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Research has shown that judges and jurors are influenced by suspect ethnicity and that they might discriminate against out-group suspects in making decisions. This study examined the tendency to favor in-group members, as predicted by social identity theory, in assessing alibi credibility. Forty Israeli-Jewish and 40 Israeli-Arab participants assessed the credibility of an alibi statement provided by a suspect who was either Israeli-Jewish or Israeli-Arab. Findings show that participants were more likely to believe the alibi when it was provided by an in-group suspect than by an out-group suspect, supporting intergroup bias in alibi credibility assessments. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.
... 1.2 | Contextual details: the timing of alibi disclosure and the type of crime Corroborative alibi evidence matters when it comes to alibi believability, but do contextual factors that are not directly related to corroborative evidence also matter? Researchers have examined defendant race (Sargent & Bradfield, 2004), defendant gender (Maeder & Dempsey, 2013), defendant age (Pozzulo et al., 2015), alibi corroborator age (Bruer, Price, & Dahl, 2017;Dahl & Price, 2012;, judge's instructions (Allison & Brimacombe, 2010), and the salaciousness of the alibi activities (Allison, Jung, Sweeney, & Culhane, 2014;Jung, Allison, & Bohn, 2013;Keeping, Eastwood, Lively, & Snook, 2017;Nieuwkamp, Horselenberg, & van Koppen, 2016). ...
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A disbelief in alibis is one contributor to wrongful convictions. One reason that triers‐of‐fact may disbelieve alibis is that they lack evidence to corroborate the whereabouts of the suspect at the time of the crime. Contextual factors, such as when the alibi was disclosed and what was the nature of the crime, can also affect alibi believability. This paper outlines two studies where mock jurors evaluated an investigation and trial description online and rated alibi believability, defendant character trait ratings, and verdicts. Both studies examined the impact of corroborative alibi evidence and the timing of the alibi disclosure. In addition, Study 1 included the type of crime and Study 2 included the number of alibi corroborators as additional independent variables. We hypothesized that alibis would be viewed more positively when they were disclosed earlier rather than later, were corroborated by strong physical evidence and multiple corroborators, and involved less violent offenses. As hypothesized, in both studies, alibis with strong physical evidence were thought to be more believable than those with no physical evidence but the number of corroborators and type of crime did not affect any dependent measures. Delayed timing had some negative effects on views of the defendant's character. Corroborative physical evidence affected alibi believability consistently, and contextual factors mattered less. Both implications and suggestions for future research are further discussed.
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The present study examined the influence of physical evidence in support of an alibi, type of crime, alibi salaciousness on the verdict, sentencing, and credibility perceptions of 317 undergraduate mock jurors who read fabricated police and court summaries. Alibis substantiated by physical evidence were accompanied by fewer guilty verdicts, higher believability, and more positive character ratings. Although salaciousness did not influence trial outcomes and alibi believability, it interacted with physical evidence to produce less positive character ratings. The results also revealed that the crime type had a main effect on assigning prison sentences with sexual offenses leading to a greater likelihood of assigning a prison sentence. When participants espoused more conservative views, they were more likely to give guilty verdicts and negatively evaluate the defendant. The finding further indicated that those who gave guilty verdict decisions (over not criminally responsible decisions) saw alibis as less believable and perceived the defendant and corroborator more negatively.
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The present study was designed to assess whether or not the presentation method and the salaciousness of an alibi affect its evaluation. Community participants (n = 150) were asked to evaluate the salacious or non-salacious alibi of a crime suspect. The alibi was either presented immediately after arrest by the suspect or was changed after the initial alibi turned out to be incorrect. The incorrect alibi was due to either a misrecollection or a deliberate lie. We found that when the initial alibi was changed into a salacious one, the believability increased. This effect was larger when the initial alibi was a lie than when it was a misrecollection. The results of the present study demonstrate that, contrary to common belief, a changed salacious alibi can lead to an increase in alibi believability. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13218719.2016.1142934#.VuMNHIR6R6A
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Occasionally, an inter-rater reliability study must be designed so that each subject is rated by fewer than all the participating raters. If there is interest in comparing the raters' mean levels of rating, and if it is desired that each mean be estimated with the same precision, then a balanced incomplete block design for the reliability study is indicated. Methods for executing the design and for analyzing the resulting data are presented, using data from an actual study for illustration.
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Previous research on extreme response style and rating consistency led to the hypothesis that American college women frequently experience a greater range of positive affect than men. This was tested by requiring subjects to choose either a positive or negative trait, matched for polarity, as being more neutral. Contrary to the hypothesis, both sexes consistently chose positive traits. The results supported the concept of a “negativity bias”: viz., that negative traits have more impact than positive traits that are matched for extremeness. This negativity bias was further supported by a second study in which subjects reported greater differences in evaluation between negative traits than between positive ones. The amount of difference increased with greater degrees of polarization of the traits being judged. The results were interpreted as indicating that the negative half of bipolar scales covers a greater range of differences in evaluation than does the positive half of such scales.
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Describes statement validity assessment (SVA), which is a set of techniques and procedures for obtaining and evaluating statements by children who allegedly have been sexually abused. SVA consists of a structured interview of the child witness, a system for analyzing the content of the child's recorded statement (criteria-based content analysis), and an overall method (validity checklist) for analyzing the validity of the allegations contained in the statement. The need for SVA in sexual abuse cases is discussed, together with the history and rationale of its development and details of the interview and assessment procedures. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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a description of statement analysis by means of content (reality) criteria, a procedure that is called criteria-based statement analysis content criteria reflect specific features that differentiate truthful from invented testimonies (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Undergraduates (N = 339) listened to a simulated police interview with a defendant concerning his alibi. We studied the impact of (a) the strength of the alibi evidence; (b) defendant's prior convictions; (c) judge's instructions on prior conviction evidence; and (d) perceivers' need for cognition (NFC) on alibi believability and defendant guilt ratings. Defendants previously convicted of the same crime as the current charge were seen as more likely to be guilty than defendants previously convicted of a different crime. Judge's instructions did not affect guilt ratings. NFC was less influential than anticipated, but did affect participants' understanding and recall of judicial instructions. Strong alibis were seen as more believable and led to lower guilt ratings than weak alibis.
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The impact of alibi testimony on juror decision making is not yet clear because it has been examined empirically infrequently. This study was designed to determine the impact of alibi witness' testimony, the impact of an alibi witness with a relationship in comparison to one without a relationship to the defendant, and the impact of an eyewitness' confidence on juror decision making. Results indicated that mock jurors acquit a defendant more often when an alibi witness with no relationship to the defendant testified on his behalf. Participants did not believe an alibi witness who had a relationship with the defendant even though the witness was not a family member. Implications for these results are discussed.
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Purpose. The nascent field of alibi evaluation research has produced interesting and inconsistent findings. We focus on a heretofore unexamined variable that may play a critical role in alibi evaluation: context. Specifically, two experiments tested the hypothesis that the same alibi can be evaluated differently when presented in the context of a police investigation vs. criminal trial.Method. In Study 1, 101 college participants evaluated an alibi in one of three contexts: police investigation, criminal trial, or a control condition devoid of specific legal context. Dependent measures included ratings of alibi strength and credibility, as well as the likelihood that the suspect was guilty. In Study 2, both context and the presence of a corroborating witness were varied in a scenario presented to 139 college participants.Results. Across studies, an alibi was rated as stronger in the police investigation vs. trial context, consistent with the prediction that the fact that a case has proceeded to trial implies to perceivers that the alibi is relatively weak. In Study 2, an alibi was deemed stronger when corroborated vs. uncorroborated, but this difference was only significant in the police investigation context.Conclusions. If alibi research is to fulfil its promise for legal and policy implications, a clearer understanding of the variables that influence alibi evaluation must be developed. The present results illustrate the importance of context in this investigation, suggesting that two researchers studying evaluations of the same alibi may arrive at different conclusions based on the simple framing of the experimental task.
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Although downloading music through unapproved channels is illegal, statistics indicate that it is widespread. The following study examines the attitudes and perceptions of college students that are potentially engaged in music downloading. The methodology includes a content analysis of the recommendations written to answer an ethical vignette. The vignette presented the case of a subject who faces the dilemma of whether or not to download music illegally. Analyses of the final reports indicate that there is a vast and inconsistent array of actions and underlying feelings toward digital music downloading. The findings reveal inconsistencies between participants’ recommendations (what the subject should do) and their attitudes and opinions on the matter (what they would do in a similar situation). These inconsistencies support the notion that as technology evolves, it creates discrepancies between the way things are and the way the law expects them to be, leaving society in a muddle, trying to reconcile the two. What remains to be seen is whether the discrepancy in the case of music downloading becomes extreme enough that the law changes to accommodate an increasingly prevalent behavior, or whether new business models will emerge to bridge the gap between legality and reality.
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This paper presents a general statistical methodology for the analysis of multivariate categorical data arising from observer reliability studies. The procedure essentially involves the construction of functions of the observed proportions which are directed at the extent to which the observers agree among themselves and the construction of test statistics for hypotheses involving these functions. Tests for interobserver bias are presented in terms of first-order marginal homogeneity and measures of interobserver agreement are developed as generalized kappa-type statistics. These procedures are illustrated with a clinical diagnosis example from the epidemiological literature.
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People are often expected to make decisions based on all of the relevant information, weighted and combined appropriately. Under many conditions, however, people use heuristic strategies that depart from this ideal. I tested the ability of two models to predict bail decisions made by judges in two courts. In both courts, a simple heuristic proved to be a better predictor of judicial decisions than a more complex model that instantiated the principles of due process. Specifically, judges were "passing the buck" because they relied on decisions made by the police, prosecution, and previous bench. Problematically, these earlier decisions were not significantly related to case characteristics. These findings have implications for the types of models researchers use to capture professional decision-making policies.
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Police-induced confessions: Risk factors and recommendations
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