Expanding the Scope of Cross Examination so that Jurors Can Infer Witness Calibration

6 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2007

See all articles by Elizabeth R. Tenney

Elizabeth R. Tenney

University of Virginia - Psychology

Barbara A. Spellman

University of Virginia School of Law

Robert MacCoun

Stanford Law School

Date Written: September 3, 2007

Abstract

Jurors rely heavily on witnesses' confidence and veracity when evaluating credibility. Three studies demonstrate that jurors will regard a witness's calibration - the relation between that witness's own confidence and accuracy - as more important than either confidence or veracity when calibration information is available. We have already shown (Tenney et al. 2007) that initially jurors prefer a high-confidence witness; however, when an error allows the evaluation of calibration, jurors prefer a low-confidence but well-calibrated witness to a high-confidence poorly-calibrated one. Experiment 1 rules out the explanation that "modesty in the face of errors" is what matters. Experiment 2 shows that jurors understand that "good faith errors" are not errors in calibration. Experiment 3 shows that intentional lies are not treated as errors in calibration. Our results encourage a broad interpretation of FRE 611(b), allowing for more extensive cross-examination to provide calibration information that is relevant to credibility judgments. Calibration information can ameliorate over-reliance on witness confidence. Explanations for calibration errors can be important to witness credibility.

Keywords: jury decision making, testimony, evidence

JEL Classification: K41, K40

Suggested Citation

Tenney, Elizabeth R. and Spellman, Barbara A. and MacCoun, Robert, Expanding the Scope of Cross Examination so that Jurors Can Infer Witness Calibration (September 3, 2007). 2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=998593 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.998593

Elizabeth R. Tenney

University of Virginia - Psychology ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Barbara A. Spellman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Robert MacCoun

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-721-7031 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
33
Abstract Views
572
PlumX Metrics