Not all eyewitnesses are equal: Accent status, race and age interact to influence evaluations of testimony

Frumkin, Lara A. and Stone, Anna (2020). Not all eyewitnesses are equal: Accent status, race and age interact to influence evaluations of testimony. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15377938.2020.1727806

Abstract

Extralegal factors such as accent status, race and age may affect how someone is perceived in courtrooms. Even eyewitnesses who are not on trial may be rated less favorably as a result of such features. The current study measured accent status, race and age with 254 participants listening to oral witness statements. Results indicate eyewitnesses with higher-status accents were rated more favorably than those with lower-status accents and younger black eyewitnesses were rated higher than older black witnesses. White eyewitnesses were more favorably rated than black witnesses although this was qualified by results suggesting anti-norm deviance. The findings provide the criminal justice system with reasons to question how interactions among witness characteristics and with observer characteristics may influence court decisions.

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