The influence of case-specific expert testimony on juror sensitivity to confession evidence

Skye A Woestehoff, University of Texas at El Paso


Research on the effect of expert testimony has resulted in incongruent findings. Expert testimony has been shown to lead to sensitivity, by educating participants about the evidence and facilitating the application of this knowledge, and skepticism, by causing jurors to distrust the evidence regardless of its quality. The current study explored the role of expert testimony in improving participants' evaluation of confession evidence. Data were collected from 352 students and 281 community members. Participants read a trial transcript that included a low-pressure, medium-pressure, or high-pressure interrogation. Participants also read expert testimony that was general, case-specific, or no testimony at all. The remaining participants read a transcript without an interrogation or expert testimony. Although both general and case-specific expert testimony educated participants about false confession risk factors, neither type of expert testimony had an effect on participants' verdicts. However, participants were sensitive to false confession risk factors in the absence of expert testimony. Contrary to what previous studies found, participants discounted the confession when the confession was elicited during an interrogation that included false confession risk factors (the medium- and high-pressure interrogations).

Subject Area

Social psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Woestehoff, Skye A, "The influence of case-specific expert testimony on juror sensitivity to confession evidence" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1546356.