Daniella K. Cash

RESEARCH INTERESTS

I am a fifth year graduate student in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences doctoral program at Louisiana State University. Broadly, I am interested in memory and decision-making processes. I am also interested in the intersection of memory, decision-making and the law. Specifically, eyewitness memory and how jurors interpret eyewitness evidence as well as the decision-making processes that jurors may rely on when providing verdict decisions. Additionally, I am also interested in our ability to discriminate between truthful and deceptive statements.

 

My ongoing projects focus on the following topics:

  • Investigating the circumstances under which associative memory fails for eyewitnesses and produces a mistaken identification as well as other mistaken source judgments that can result in erroneous identifications.

  • How and why does the type of identification procedure impact eyewitness accuracy.

  • The impact of feedback (either helpful or deleterious) on memory as well as the impact of post-identification feedback on witness memory.

  • How and when we are more likely to rely on various rejection strategies and how this impacts memory accuracy.

  • What factors can contribute to making truthful and deceptive statements more believable.

  • How do juries approach their verdict decision-making and how they interpret information that is provided to them at trial.

TEACHING INTERESTS & GOALS

Throughout my time at my academic career, I have had numerous valuable opportunities to get involved with teaching and to develop my own teaching style. I have served as a teaching assistant for many classes such as Introduction to Psychology, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Research Methods and Design, and Psychology and Law. I have been an Instructor of Record for Introduction to Psychology as well as being invited to give lectures on Psychology and Law to various programs such as the Duke Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). I have enjoyed these experiences tremendously and am excited for the opportunity to teach more classes in the future.

RECENT RESEARCH

Source Memory & Mistaken Identifications

There is considerable interest with regard to the many reasons why eyewitnesses may mistakenly identify an innocent suspect as having been a culprit to a crime. One area that can contribute to these inaccurate identifications is when a suspect makes an inaccurate source judgment about where they have encountered a suspect. This is a phenomenon known as unconscious transference (Ross, Ceci, Dunning, & Toglia, 1994).

Early studies have suggested that these errors occur based on a mistaken inference that the bystander and culprit are the same person (Read et al., 1990; Ross, Ceci, Dunning, & Toglia, 1994). However, I believe that additional factors can impact how these errors can be induced and that there is a lack of understanding in how some important factors can also impact these identifications. I hope to expand on our understanding of these components through the research I am conducting. For example, in a set of recent studies, participants studied faces in consistent or inconsistent contexts (see above, left). At test, that individual appeared in either the same or a different context. Results (above, right) revealed that stronger associative memory between an individual and the context in which they were encountered in reduces the likelihood of a mistaken source attribution. Additionally, another study I have conducted has shown that witnesses source attributions are highly dependent on the retention interval between when they encountered the actual culprit and the innocent suspect.

Jury Decision-Making & Metacognition

Eyewitnesses are not the only individuals faced with a difficult task within the legal system. Jurors have a very daunting task as they are asked to consider many critical pieces of evidence when making their verdict decisions. An important question is exactly how are jurors doing that?

In a series of studies, I have investigated how jurors interpret eyewitness confidence and how the type of statement that is provided can impact not only their perceptions of how confident the witness is, but myriad of other factors, such as how good of a view the witness had, how much attention the witness was paying, etc. Additionally, I am also researching the degree to which jurors are able to recognize and account for post-identification feedback. Post-identification feedback is when a lineup administrator gives a witness feedback pertaining to their decision after the witness has made an identification. Research has shown that this is deleterious to witness confidence (Key, Wetmore, Cash, Neuschatz, & Gronlund, 2017), but if jurors are able to recognize these statements, it can be possible that they can account for them when considering eyewitness testimony. Should this be the case, it is possible that recommending that jurors be allowed to see the entirety of an identification may reduce a very dangerous component of over confident eyewitnesses in the legal system.

Deception Detection

Deception is prevalent in both our every day life as well as the legal system. How do we know whether we really look good in a dress or not? How do we know if a suspect is lying or telling the truth? These are some of the questions that I have tried to answer.

With regard to every day lying, there are factors that would vastly improve our knowledge about how they impact our ability to lie or tell the truth. In a series of studies, I explore factors such as the amount of practice a liar has had, how familiar the person making a veracity assessment is with the speaker, the type of statement that is to be assessed and how they impact our ability to detect every day (or low stakes) lies. Within a legal setting, false confessions are viewed as the "gold standard" of evidence that could be presented at trial. However, these false confessions are, at their core, a lie. I have investigated how these highly consequential real world lies compare to what we know about lies that are obtained in a laboratory setting and if there are any reliable ways to discriminate a truthful from a deceptive statement.

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