Year of Publication

2012

Season of Publication

Fall

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)

Department

Psychology

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Toglia

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Leone

Department Chair

Dr. Michael Toglia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick

Abstract

The relationship between age and perceived credibility was examined, particularly whether or not middle-aged witnesses were perceived as more credible than older eyewitnesses. Additionally, I was interested in whether or not the relationship between age and credibility was moderated by need for cognition. Participants read a trial transcript about a child pedestrian-car accident wherein a defendant was charged with manslaughter. The sole eyewitness, either a 49 or 79 year-old male, testified that the child hit his head on a rock upon stepping off the curb before being struck by the defendant’s vehicle. Transcripts included direct and cross-examination with half accompanied by the eyewitness’ photo. Participants rated witness credibility on nine dimensions including competence, honesty, and suggestibility, then rendered a verdict. Participants completed the Need for Cognition Scale and a questionnaire measuring attitudes towards punishment. There was a significant three-way interaction between age, information type, and need for cognition on perceived credibility ratings. Perceived credibility ratings were positively correlated with judgments of guilt. Results are discussed in terms of their implications within the criminal justice system.

Share

COinS