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Shifts in Validity Perceptions of Minority Confessions: Assessing Evidence Integration in Trials with a Coherence-Based Reasoning Model
AuthorVillalobos, Jose Guillermo
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Stereotype-based biases can affect judgments of the validity of confessions made by Black suspects, as well as interpretation of other evidence and circumstances relevant to assessments of guilt. Furthermore, face-type biases might exacerbate these racial stereotypes by causing individuals with more pronounced Afrocentric features to be perceived as more likely to be associated with criminality, compared to individuals with more Eurocentric features. The present study addresses how racial stereotypes can negatively impact the interpretation of confessions made by Black (vs. White) defendants, as well as the assessment of other inculpatory evidence presented during trial. The present study utilizes a framework based on coherence-based reasoning (CBR)—decision-makers’ inherent tendency to engage in confirmatory information search in order to cognitively integrate all evidence and preferred outcomes into a coherent narrative—to examine the extent to which convergence during evidence integration strongly favors consistency with guilt when the defendant is Black versus when he is White. The current study also tested the bidirectional nature of CBR by assessing whether perceptions of defendant race and/or race-based stereotypicality of facial physiognomy can change based on the strength of inculpatory evidence. Results found no support for CBR taking place during the decision-making process, or evidence that defendant race had any direct or indirect effect on participants’ evaluations of confession evidence or assessments of guilt.