Episode #137 - Four Psychological Concepts Behind Witness Testimony Errors

Dr. Steve Wood describes four psychological concepts that help to explain why some witnesses make mistakes in their testimony performance: 

1) Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests there is a relationship between performance and arousal. Increased arousal can help improve performance, but only up to a certain point. At the point when arousal becomes excessive, performance diminishes.

2) The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe they are smarter and more capable than they actually are. Essentially, low-ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence.

3) Evaluation apprehension is a human tendency to try to look better or the fear of being evaluated. This creates a lot of anxiety because of their concern about how they are perceived by others who are watching them and their performance.

4) "Thin-slicing" refers to the ability of our subconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience or information. There needs to be an awareness that small snippets of information can lead to negative evaluations based on these small bits of information.