Effects of closing arguments and adult age on false memory and jury verdicts in a simulated trial setting

Shannon O'Neill, The College of Wooster


Age differences in false memory judgments were analyzed as a function of closing arguments in a simulated trial. The memories of middle-aged and young adults were compared. The theory of imagination inflation was tested by comparing an imaginative, suggestible closing argument to a neutral closing argument. It was found, though not significant, participants who heard the imaginative closing argument had more of a tendency to make false memory judgments than those who heard the neutral closing argument. No age differences were detected. A participant's determination of degree of guilt of the defendant was also explored. By analysis of this factor, it was found that younger adults rated the defendant guilty more often and were more confident in their decision than middle-aged adults. Limitations of the study's findings are addressed as well as future implications for examining psychology and law.