View all articles in this issue
Effects of DNA and Eyewitness Evidence on Juror Decisions
Download this article for $1.00 (FREE for Members)
by Naomi J. Freeman and Diana L. D. Punzo* - Earlham College
The present experiment investigated whether DNA evidence, eyewitness evidence, or a combination of both was more persuasive to mock jurors. The study also explored whether varying the credibility of the testimony affected persuasiveness. The researchers hypothesized that the combination of eyewitness and DNA evidence would be the most persuasive to jurors. Eyewitness evidence would be more persuasive than DNA evidence, and credible testimony would be more persuasive than discredited testimony. One hundred-fifty college students read an excerpt from a court transcript describing a first-degree murder trial. Participants rendered a verdict and answered questions concerning confidence, understanding, reliability, and persuasiveness of testimony. The analyses partly supported the hypotheses. DNA evidence was more persuasive, reliable, influential, and less likely to be viewed as wrong than eyewitness evidence, regardless of whether it was discredited. DNA evidence elicited more guilty verdicts, and jurors were more confident in their verdict. We discuss these results in light of the 2-routes-to-persuasion theory.