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Credibility judgments in context: effects of emotional expression, presentation mode, and statement consistency

Journal article
Authors Sara Landström
Karl Ask
Charlotte Sommar
Published in Psychology, Crime and Law
Volume 25
Issue 3
Pages 279-297
ISSN 1068-316X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 279-297
Language en
Keywords Emotional demeanor, presentation mode, statement consistency, victim credibility, police trainees
Subject categories Applied Psychology


In this study, we examined the effects of complainant emotionality, presentation mode, and statement consistency on credibility judgments in an intimate partner abuse case. Male and female police trainees (N = 172) assessed the credibility of a domestic abuse complainant who appeared either live or on video, and behaved in an emotional (displaying sadness and distress) or a neutral manner. In addition, the consistency of the statement with other evidence was manipulated. Live (vs. video) and consistent (vs. inconsistent) statements were perceived as more credible, and 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 appears to have been masked by other mechanisms (compassion and approach/avoidance) operating in the opposite direction. These findings highlight the need to consider multiple, sometimes conflicting, mechanisms underlying extra-legal influences on credibility judgments. Legal implications are discussed.

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