University of Hertfordshire

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A nod in the wrong direction: Does nonverbal feedback affect eyewitness confidence in interviews?

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-250
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Early online date14 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Eyewitnesses can be influenced by an interviewer's behaviour and report information with inflated confidence as a result. Previous research has shown that positive feedback administered verbally can affect the confidence attributed to testimony, but the effect of non-verbal influence in interviews has been given little attention. This study investigated whether positive or negative non-verbal feedback could affect the confidence witnesses attribute to their responses. Participants witnessed staged CCTV footage of a crime scene and answered 20 questions in a structured interview, during which they were given either positive feedback (a head nod), negative feedback (a head shake) or no feedback. Those presented with positive non-verbal feedback reported inflated confidence compared with those presented with negative non-verbal feedback regardless of accuracy, and this effect was most apparent when participants reported awareness of the feedback. These results provide further insight into the effects of interviewer behaviour in investigative interviews

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