Parrish, Emily (2018) The Impact of Individual Differences on Accuracy, Confidence, and Punitive Judgements for Eyewitness Testimony of Domestic Violence. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Previous research has predominantly focused on physical aspects of crimes that impact the
reliability and accuracy of eyewitness testimony, such as the influence of proximity and visibility.
There is a lack of research examining whether combinations of individual differences impact on how
witnesses interpret and recall the events of a crime. This could have potential implications for the
reliability of any subsequent eyewitness testimonies that are used during criminal investigations.
Previous research has identified differences in relation to variables such as gender, age, and ethnicity
on eyewitness accuracy and confidence, when examined individually. Additionally, some alternative
research has identified that gender can impact on punitive judgements. The current thesis explores
combinations of individual differences (gender, age, personality) and their impact on eyewitness
accuracy, confidence, and punitive judgements in one thesis, as these are all inherent in any
eyewitness. If eyewitnesses are perceived as being overly accurate or overly inaccurate and their
testimonies do not support this perception, this could have negative consequences for the Criminal
Justice System as unreliable evidence may be used in court proceedings and be subject to a jury’s
interpretation. This thesis aimed to explore how individual differences (gender, age, personality)
impacted on eyewitness accuracy, confidence, and punitive judgements of domestic violence. To
explore this, 590 participants comprising of 232 male and 358 female participants aged between 18 –
70 years (M = 33.10, SD = 13.27) were shown mock video footage depicting domestic violence
scenarios comprising different condition combinations of clarity and perpetrator gender. Participants
were subsequently questioned about their recall, confidence, and perceptions of the footage. Substudies
then examined; a) overall accuracy and how this was impacted by the different conditions, b)
relationships between accuracy and eyewitness confidence across the different conditions, c) how
condition, accuracy and confidence influenced punitive judgements regarding the footage, and d) how
individual differences facilitated the relationships between the various measures. The findings
revealed that age and personality significantly impacted the accuracy of participants; however, this
was not the case for gender, clarity, and perpetrator gender. Additionally, the results demonstrated
that there was a significant positive correlation between accuracy and confidence, as well as
significant correlations between accuracy and confidence and factors such as age and personality. It
was also indicated that participant gender, personality, clarity, and perpetrator gender impacted on
participant responses to punitive judgements. The findings also showed that accuracy and confidence
ratings impacted on the responses and punitive judgements. To conclude, this research examined
how individual differences impacted upon accuracy, confidence, and punitive judgements, as well as
looking at these components in combination with each other. This was to gain a better understanding
of how witnesses of domestic violence may perceive and interpret the incident. The findings showed
participants had a positive bias towards female victims of domestic violence compared with male
victims in relation to punitive judgements. This research provided evidence to suggest that examining
individual differences in combination with crime scene factors can allow for a better understanding of
how witnesses interpret domestic violence and how individual factors and personal attributes may
influence this. Therefore, from this research it is suggested that by examining the individual
differences of witnesses and understanding the prejudices that may be linked to the incident
witnessed, greater insight may be provided into flaws in eyewitness testimony.

FINAL THESIS - Parrish.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (6MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email