Blame conformity: innocent bystanders can be blamed for a crime as a result of misinformation from a young, but not elderly, adult co-witness

Thorley, Craig (2015) Blame conformity: innocent bystanders can be blamed for a crime as a result of misinformation from a young, but not elderly, adult co-witness. PLoS ONE, 10 (7). e0134739. pp. 1-15.

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This study examined whether or not exposing an eyewitness to a co-witness statement that incorrectly blames an innocent bystander for a crime can increase the likelihood of the eyewitness subsequently blaming the innocent bystander for the crime. It also examined whether or not the perceived age of the co-witness influences this effect. Participant eyewitnesses first watched a video of a crime featuring a perpetrator and an innocent bystander. They then read one of six bogus co-witness statements about the crime. All were presented as having been written by a female co-witness and they differed in terms of her age (young adult or elderly) and who she blamed for the crime (the perpetrator, the innocent bystander, or nobody). One week later the participants were asked who committed the crime. When the young adult co-witness had blamed the innocent bystander just over 40% of participants subsequently did the same. Few participants (less than 8%) in the other conditions subsequently blamed the innocent bystander. The elderly co-witness was also rated as less credible, less competent, and less accurate than the younger co-witness suggesting eyewitnesses were less likely to be influenced by her incorrect statement as they perceived her to be a less reliable source of information. The applied implications of these findings are discussed.

Item ID: 46874
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

The full anonymised data set from this study is available on the Open Science Framework website via research data URL.

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Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2017 05:34
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170104 Forensic Psychology @ 50%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170201 Computer Perception, Memory and Attention @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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