Event Title

SS3 -- How Appearance, Gender, and Preparedness Impact Perception On Expert Witness Credibility

Presenter Information

Joi Wilder, USC UpstateFollow

Location

URC Greatroom

Start Date

8-4-2022 10:30 AM

End Date

8-4-2022 12:15 PM

Description

Many factors have been shown to influence perceptions of complainant (e.g. defendant) credibility and, in turn, affect the likelihood of a conviction. One such factor is the quality of the complainant’s testimony (Ryan & Westera, 2018). Another factor is how the expert witness presents themselves during testimony. McClure, et al., (2013) conducted a study that showed having the expert witness smiling and having confidence in what they were saying when giving their testimony led the participants to determine that they were more credible when compared to expert witnesses that did not smile when giving their testimony. Previous studies have examined the impact of appearance, gender, and presentation style on expert witness credibility separately. The current study examined how these factors might work together to help or hinder an expert witness’ credibility. Participants were shown one of eight short 2–5-minute videos depicting either a male or female expert witness being asked questions and sworn in prior to testifying in a child victimization case. Participants were asked to rate their perception of the expert witnesses in four categories (i.e., confidence, likeability, trustworthiness, knowledgeableness) using the 20-item Witness Credibility scale. A significant effect of the expert witness’ gender was found, with the female expert witness being rated as more confident and trustworthy than the male expert witness. A significant effect of Preparedness was also found, with expert witnesses who appeared prepared being rated more confident, likeable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable than expert witnesses who appeared ill-prepared. No other results reached significance. The findings of the current study differ from a majority of the previous research. Most of the previous studies found that males tended to be rated as more credible than females; however, the opposite results were found when rating for confident and trustworthiness. Future directions for the current study could potentially include a more distinct exaggeration when manipulating the actor’s way of dressing and acting when portraying their different levels of preparedness. Another future direction would be to use graduate students who are training to work in the legal system (i.e., law students and social work students) as participants. It would be interesting to see if additional education about the legal system and how it works, as compared to undergraduate students, would influence one’s perception of expert witnesses.

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Apr 8th, 10:30 AM Apr 8th, 12:15 PM

SS3 -- How Appearance, Gender, and Preparedness Impact Perception On Expert Witness Credibility

URC Greatroom

Many factors have been shown to influence perceptions of complainant (e.g. defendant) credibility and, in turn, affect the likelihood of a conviction. One such factor is the quality of the complainant’s testimony (Ryan & Westera, 2018). Another factor is how the expert witness presents themselves during testimony. McClure, et al., (2013) conducted a study that showed having the expert witness smiling and having confidence in what they were saying when giving their testimony led the participants to determine that they were more credible when compared to expert witnesses that did not smile when giving their testimony. Previous studies have examined the impact of appearance, gender, and presentation style on expert witness credibility separately. The current study examined how these factors might work together to help or hinder an expert witness’ credibility. Participants were shown one of eight short 2–5-minute videos depicting either a male or female expert witness being asked questions and sworn in prior to testifying in a child victimization case. Participants were asked to rate their perception of the expert witnesses in four categories (i.e., confidence, likeability, trustworthiness, knowledgeableness) using the 20-item Witness Credibility scale. A significant effect of the expert witness’ gender was found, with the female expert witness being rated as more confident and trustworthy than the male expert witness. A significant effect of Preparedness was also found, with expert witnesses who appeared prepared being rated more confident, likeable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable than expert witnesses who appeared ill-prepared. No other results reached significance. The findings of the current study differ from a majority of the previous research. Most of the previous studies found that males tended to be rated as more credible than females; however, the opposite results were found when rating for confident and trustworthiness. Future directions for the current study could potentially include a more distinct exaggeration when manipulating the actor’s way of dressing and acting when portraying their different levels of preparedness. Another future direction would be to use graduate students who are training to work in the legal system (i.e., law students and social work students) as participants. It would be interesting to see if additional education about the legal system and how it works, as compared to undergraduate students, would influence one’s perception of expert witnesses.