Alibi Witnesses

Alibi witnesses can also be misled by extrinsic evidence, causing them to lose confidence in their memories about an innocent suspect. In a laboratory experi- ment that demonstrates this risk, Marion et al. (2016) brought individual partic- ipants and a confederate together to complete a series of problem-solving tasks. The confederate was subsequently accused of stealing money from an adjacent office during the study session. After initially corroborating the innocent confed- erate’s alibi that she never left the testing room, only 45% of participants main- tained their support of that alibi after being led to believe that the confederate had confessed (95% maintained their initial report when told that the confeder- ate had denied involvement). Other researchers too have found that word of a confession causes some alibi witnesses to lose confidence in their support for a suspect—even when that suspect is a friend.

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