Calibration Trumps Confidence as a Basis for Witness Credibility

5 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2007  

Elizabeth R. Tenney

University of Virginia - Psychology

Robert MacCoun

Stanford Law School

Barbara A. Spellman

University of Virginia School of Law

Reid Hastie

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

In the courtroom and in laboratory studies, confident witnesses are viewed as more credible, and thus have more influence on judgments and verdicts, than unconfident witnesses. In two experiments (with college student subjects) we demonstrate that erroneous testimony may damage the credibility of a high-confidence witness more than a low-confidence one. We show that listeners rely on a source's calibration - whether the source's confidence is appropriate to the level of knowledge - rather than confidence when evaluating testimony.

Keywords: evidence, juries

JEL Classification: K4, K41

Suggested Citation

Tenney, Elizabeth R. and MacCoun, Robert and Spellman, Barbara A. and Hastie, Reid, Calibration Trumps Confidence as a Basis for Witness Credibility. Psychological Science, Vol. 18, No. 1, p. 46, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979107

Elizabeth R. Tenney

University of Virginia - Psychology ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Robert MacCoun

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Barbara A. Spellman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Reid Hastie

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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