Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 33 Issue 5 (September 2019), Pages 729-979

The impact of hedged testimony on judgments of credibility (pages 784-792)

Summary We tested whether people are attuned to critical memory factors, such as age at the timing of encoding and hedge words when judging the credibility of testimony. In two experiments, participants read a 19‐year‐old's testimony regarding a sexual assault. We manipulated whether participants learned that the assault occurred 4 years ago (when the claimant was 15 years old) or 15 years ago (when the claimant was 4 years old) and whether the claimant used hedge words in her testimony. In Experiment 2, we included a cross‐examination. Without the cross‐examination, participants rated the testimony as more credible when the assault had occurred 15 years ago. However, with the inclusion of a cross‐examination, participants rated the testimony more reliable when the event occurred 4 years ago and the claimant did not use hedge words. We discuss the implications our results have, particularly for historical cases, where memory is a key factor.

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