Calibration Trumps Confidence as a Basis for Witness Credibility.

“Calibration Trumps Confidence as a Basis for Witness Credibility.” Elizabeth R. Tenney, Robert J. MacCoun, Barbara A. Spellman and Reid Hastie; Psychological Science, 2007, 18(1), pp. 46-50.

Confident witnesses are deemed more credible than unconfident ones, and accurate witnesses are deemed more credible than inaccurate ones. But are those effects independent? Two experiments show that errors in testimony damage the overall credibility of witnesses who were confident about the erroneous testimony more than that of witnesses who were not confident about it. Furthermore, after making an error, less confident witnesses may appear more credible than more confident ones. Our interpretation of these results is that people make inferences about source calibration when evaluating testimony and other social communication.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17362377