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Alibi Generation: Improving innocents suspects' accuracy and examining alibi discriminability using a novel GPS paradigm

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $83,840)

The proposed dissertation seeks to test an intervention predicted to improve the accuracy of innocent suspects’ alibis, and to discover behavioral cues that discriminate mistaken alibis from deceptive alibis. Specifically, the student will examine whether allowing suspects access to their phones prior to providing an alibi improves alibi accuracy. The project also introduces an improved methodology for alibi generation research that uses GPS tracking for an objective assessment of alibi accuracy. Three hundred consented undergraduate students will receive devices assigned a unique identification code so collection of their GPS coordinates is confidential. Subjects will be tracked four times over two weeks, and then interviewed while video-recorded and regarding their whereabouts during those periods. Transcripts will be associated to the GPS coordinates by the PI. The research entails a 2x3 design whereby subjects are randomly assigned to six conditions varied on Veracity (Honest versus Deceptive) and Interview Approach (Preparation/Phone Access, Preparation Only, versus Control). The student hypothesizes that innocent alibi providers will provide mostly inaccurate alibis (location per address, landmark, or map), as determined by their GPS coordinates. However, a) having innocent alibi providers take time for preparation and (b) allowing them to access information on their mobile phone when generating their alibi should improve the accuracy of their alibis. They will also examine whether Preparation/Phone Access increases various cues to deception (e.g., length of time looking at phone, number of different sources of information examined) between honest/mistaken and guilty alibi providers. Data will be transcribed and scored by coders blind to research aims and conditions, and analyses will include chi-square, ANOVA, and logistic regression statistics. Dissemination plans include American Psychology – Law Society Annual Meetings presentations, Law and Human Behavior or other research journal publication, and data archived on an Open Science Framework.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2020