Effects of Inconsistent Eyewitness Statements on Mock-Jurors' Evaluations of the Eyewitness, Perceptions of Defendant Culpability and Verdicts

Document Type


Publication Date



Published in: Law and Human Behavior, Vol.19, No.1, 1995, p.79-88


In attempting to discredit an eyewitness, it is a common strategy for an attorney to highlight inconsistencies in the eyewitness's recall testimony during cross-examination and encourage the jurors to infer, based on those inconsistencies, that the eyewitness's memory is faulty. An experiment was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this cross-examination strategy. Subjects viewed a simulated cross-examination and rendered judgments about the eyewitness and defendant. The type of inconsistent testimony was manipulated between subjects. Subjects exposed to inconsistent recall testimony about either central or peripheral details perceived the eyewitness as less credible (as evidenced by ratings on multiple dimensions) and the defendant as less culpable. Inconsistency on central details led to fewer convictions. Results point to the effectiveness of this cross-examination strategy.