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Investigators under influence: How social norms activate goal-directed processing of criminal evidence

Journal article
Authors Karl Ask
Pär-Anders Granhag
Anna Rebelius
Published in Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 25
Pages 548-553
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 548-553
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


Previous research has shown that exposure to social information can influence behaviour through the automatic activation of goals. In the first study to examine such influences in a legal setting, an experiment with 104 experienced criminal investigators tested the idea that exposure to occupational norms can activate distinct information-processing goals. As predicted, exposure to norms associated with efficiency (vs. thoroughness) sped up and reduced the depth of investigators’ processing of criminal evidence, thus reducing their openness to sequentially late witness evidence. In addition, the goal activation operated outside investigators’ awareness, illustrating the insidious cognitive influence of occupational norms. The results are discussed in terms of practical significance and contributions to the goal activation literature and the applied study of criminal investigations.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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