Identifying Hypothesis Confirmation Behaviors in a Simulated Murder Investigation

Implications for Practice

Colin Wastell*, Nicole Weeks, Alexander Wearing, Piers Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Investigators have been shown to be prone to accessing information that confirms their preferred hypothesis. This tendency has been termed hypothesis confirmation. Hypothesis confirmation behaviour was explored in two studies using a computer administered simulation of a murder investigation. In Study 1, hypothesis confirmation behaviour did not differentiate successful and unsuccessful participants. However, unsuccessful participants stored more confirmatory information than non-confirmatory information. Successful participants did not show this pattern. In Study 2, unsuccessful participants tended to settle early on a suspect and then acquired information that supported their decision. Successful participants tended to consider a number of suspects for longer and accessed a greater diversity of information. Taken together, these findings are highly suggestive of the role of information acquisition as an important component of hypothesis confirmatory behaviour, which is associated with unsuccessful information processing in the context of a simulated murder investigation. Implications for practice are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-198
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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