Order and Strength Matter for Evaluation of Alibi and Eyewitness Evidence

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Summary

We explored the effects of presentation order and evidence strength on participants acting as investigators in a criminal context. Participants evaluated evidence and suspect guilt in a study in which alibi witness and eyewitness evidence of varying strength, presented in different orders, were compared. In contrast to research on the confirmation bias, which suggests that evidence presented early distorts subsequent evaluations of evidence, the present findings suggest that under certain circumstances, evidence received most recently can have a greater impact on decision-making. Recency effects were observed most frequently when recent evidence was particularly strong and often when it contradicted previously encountered strong evidence. The impact of recency extended beyond the impact of evidence and to evaluations of the credibility of individual pieces of evidence. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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