Impact of hypnotic testimony on the jury.

Greene, E., Wilson, L., & Loftus, E. F. (1989). Impact of hypnotic testimony on the jury. Law and Human Behavior, 13, 61-78.

In the past decade, the forensic use of hypnosis to enhance the memories of victims, witnesses, and defendants has sharply increased. A great deal of controversy surrounds this issue. Some commentators argue that testimony derived from hypnosis should not be allowed as evidence because of its inherent unreliability and the unduly powerful impact it may have on a jury. In the present research, we used a jury simulation technique to study the impact that a hypnotically refreshed witness has upon jurors’ decision making. A major finding is that jurors view hypnotic testimony with a certain amount of skepticism. In some respects, its impact is comparable to that of testimony based on delayed recall, and rarely does it have the impact of testimony from an immediate report. In addition, jurors’ judgments about hypnotically refreshed testimony affected the way they evaluated other evidence at trial: Jurors who learned that a prosecution witness had been hypnotized were less believing of other prosecution witnesses than were jurors not exposed to hypnotic testimony. The forensic application of these findings is discussed. Timing of eyewitness identification had weak effect on jury verdicts (fewer convictions when hypnotically elicited). More negative comments in deliberation regarding witness credibility when testimony elicited hypnotically. Evidence recall good, not effected by timing.