Dr. William Douglas Woody

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Both coercive yet currently acceptable police interrogation tactics and the presence of mental illness in a defendant have been separately identified as risk factors for false confessions by defendants. Extensive research has been completed regarding each issue individually, with researchers struggling to induce sensitivity in jurors to police interrogation tactics and defendants with mental illness separately. In this study, the researchers sought to examine juror’s ability to understand the totality of the circumstances (mild or severe mental health issues as well as mild or severe police interrogation pressures) when clinical expert testimony was or was not present. Undergraduate psychology students were asked to read through a narrative trial transcript and answer questions regarding the trial and their decisions and perceptions of the case. The researchers predicted that the results would show jurors as sensitive to the situational characteristics of each scenario.

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