Quick links from around the web:
The BPS Research Digest (29 Mar) highlights a study that indicates that courtroom confidence backfires when a witness makes an error:
Confidence is extremely convincing – many studies have shown that both real jurors and mock jurors are more likely to believe a courtroom witness who appears confident. But what if a confident witness is seen to make an error? New research by Elizabeth Tenney and colleagues shows that in this case, confidence backfires: confident witnesses who make mistakes are perceived to be the least reliable of all.
The press release announcing this study is here.
In this month’s Nature, Sociologist Mark Juergensmeyer of the University of California, Santa Barbara, summarizes some of his research [PDF] as follows: “If violence is presented as the authoritative voice of God, it can increase the possibility of more violence. But everything depends on how it is presented.”
Providentia (28 March) draws our attention to a study of the effect of social reactions on development of PTSD among rape victims:
Statistical analyses of the results indicated that negative social reactions and avoidance coping (such as nondisclosure) have a profound effect on development of later PTSD symptoms. The expected relationship between victim self-blame and PTSD was found to be at least partially due to negative social interactions with others.
Providentia also comments (19 Mar) on a study in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, which examines homicides committed by psychotic offenders.
The Guardian (28 Mar) reports that under new proposals from British PM Tony Blair, every child will be assessed for risk of turning to crime:
The children of prisoners, problem drug users and others at high risk of offending will also face being “actively managed” by social services and youth justice workers. New technologies are to be used to boost police detection rates while DNA samples are to be taken from any crime suspect who comes into contact with the police.
At exactly 5:45:34 on April 18, 2004 a computer taken from the office of the attorney of Melanie McGuire, did a search on the words “How To Commit Murder. That same day searches on Google and MSN search engines, were conducted on such topics as ‘instant poisons’, ‘undetectable poisons,’ ‘fatal digoxin doses’, and gun laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Ten days later, according to allegations by the state of New Jersey, McGuire murdered her husband […]