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Perpetrator admissions and earwitness renditions: the effects of retention interval and rehearsal on accuracy of and confidence in memory for criminal accounts

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(Thesis) M.A.
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While much research has explored how well earwitnesses can identify the voice of a perpetrator, little research has examined how well they can recall details from a perpetrator’s confession. This study examines the accuracy-confidence correlation for memory for details from a perpetrator’s verbal account of a crime, as well as the effects of two variables commonly encountered in a criminal investigation (rehearsal and length of retention interval) on that correlation. Results suggest that confidence can be a reasonable predictor of accuracy, depending on whether or not the perpetrator’s account is rehearsed, the duration between hearing and recalling the account, and how central the details are to the crime. Rehearsal and retention interval affected memory accuracy and confidence for individual details from the account differently, depending on how central they were to the crime. These results could assist in assessment of the credibility of memory of earwitnesses such as jailhouse informants.
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