Once wrongfully convicted individuals are exonerated, they may still face a substantial amount of stigma from society. Exonerees who falsely confessed seem to receive the greatest backlash. The aim of the current study was to discover potential characteristics of exonerees that could be motivating the negative perceptions directed at them. Specifically, I sought to uncover whether the perceived intelligence of an exoneree and the kind of evidence used in the wrongful conviction would affect guilt confidence judgments. MTurk workers completed a survey on Qualtrics that presented a scenario about a DNA exoneree whose conviction was vacated. The perceived intelligence of the exoneree was manipulated by describing his schooling and occupation, while the evidence used in the exoneree’s wrongful conviction was either an eyewitness misidentification or false confession. After reading the scenario, participants provided a guilt confidence judgment regarding the exoneree. Results indicated that the perceived intelligence of the exoneree and the evidence used in the conviction produced significantly more “not guilty” ratings across all conditions, and that there was not a significant difference in participants’ confidence levels for their judgments. Given the contrast of the current results with past research, future research should find a more effective manipulation of perceived intelligence and continue the search for factors that are influencing negative perceptions of exonerees.


Foster, Nathaniel




Cognition and Perception | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Social Psychology


Wrongful Conviction, Exoneree, False Confession, Eyewitness Misidentification, Intelligence, Stigma, Perception, Judgment

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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