Secondary Confessions as Post-identification Feedback: How Jailhouse Informant Testimony Can Alter Eyewitnesses’ Identification Decisions

Preston M. Mote, Jeffrey S. Neuschatz, Brian H. Bornstein, Stacy A. Wetmore, Kylie N. Key

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Prior research has shown that primary confession evidence can alter eyewitnesses’ identifications and self-reported confidence. The present study investigated whether secondary confession evidence from a jailhouse informant could have the same effect. Participants (N = 368) watched a video of an armed robbery and made an identification decision from a photo lineup. Except for those in the no-feedback conditions, all participants then read that certain lineup members either confessed to the crime, denied involvement, or were implicated by a jailhouse informant. Jailhouse informant testimony implicating the identified lineup member led participants to have significantly higher confidence in their identification. In contrast, jailhouse informant testimony that implicated a lineup member other than the identified led participants to have significantly lower confidence in their initial identification, and 80% of these witnesses changed their identification. These results indicate that jailhouse informant testimony can influence eyewitnesses’ confidence and their identification decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Eyewitness confidence
  • Eyewitness identification
  • Jailhouse informant
  • Primary confession
  • Secondary confession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law

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