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Credibility Judgments in Context: Effects of Emotional Expression, Presentation Mode, and Testimonial Consistency

Conference contribution
Authors Sara Landström
Karl Ask
Charlotte Sommar
Published in The 10th meeting of the Nordic Network for research on Psychology and Law (NNPL), Oslo, Norway, November 7-8, 2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords credibility judgments, emotion, presentation mode, testimonial consistency
Subject categories Applied Psychology


In this study, we examined the effects of complainant emotionality, presentation mode, and testimonial consistency on credibility judgments in an intimate partner abuse case. Police trainees (N = 172) assessed the credibility of a complainant who appeared either live or on video, and behaved in an emotional or a neutral manner. In addition, the consistency of the testimony with other evidence was manipulated. Results showed that live (vs. video) and consistent (vs. inconsistent) testimonies were perceived as more credible, and that the presentation mode effect was mediated by participants’ felt compassion and approach/avoidance tendencies toward the complainant. As predicted, emotional (vs. neutral) demeanor increased perceived credibility through its effect on expectancy confirmation, but this effect was masked by mechanisms operating in the opposite direction. These findings highlight the need to consider multiple, sometimes conflicting, mechanisms underlying extra-legal influences on credibility judgments. Legal and policy implications are discussed.

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