Tess Neal Collection

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The essential tasks for an expert witness are to be prepared, to be effective and credible on the stand, and to manage well the demands of cross-examinations. Most novice experts are excessively anxious about their testimony. Effective experts are well-oriented to the legal and scientific context of court testimony. This chapter reviews research-backed tips for preparing for expert testimony.

Contributors
Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2013

The effect of eye contact on credibility was examined via a 3 (low, medium, high eye contact) x 2 (male, female) between-groups design with 232 undergraduate participants. A trial transcript excerpt about a defendant’s recidivism likelihood was utilized as the experts’ script. A main effect was found: experts with high eye contact had higher credibility ratings than in the medium and low conditions. Although a confound precluded comparisons between the genders, results indicated that males with high eye contact were more credible than males with medium or low eye contact. The female experts’ credibility wasn’t significantly different regardless of eye ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2008

Self-Efficacy Theory (SET; Bandura, 1986, 2000) has generated research and practice ramifications across areas of psychology. However, self-efficacy has yet to be assessed in a legal context. The present paper juxtaposes self-efficacy with self-confidence in terms of theoretical foundations and practical implications, with attention to the area of witness testimony. It is concluded that the concept of witness self-efficacy possesses thorough theoretical grounding as a potential target for witness preparation. As such, we put forth an integrated model of witness preparation featuring self-efficacy bolstering techniques within an established witness training framework.

Contributors
Cramer, Robert J., Neal, Tess M.S., Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2009

This study sought to investigate the relation between expert witness likeability and juror judgments of credibility and sentencing. Two actors playing expert witnesses were trained to present themselves as high and low in likeability in a standard testimony scenario involving capital trial sentencing. The effects of extraversion and gender in mock jurors in attending to expert testimony were also examined. The dependent variables were the perceptions of the witnesses’ credibility and agreement with testimony and the participants were 210 psychology undergraduates. Likeability of expert witnesses was found to be significantly related to judgments of trustworthiness of the experts, but not ...

Contributors
Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S., Cramer, Robert J., et al.
Created Date
2009

This study sought to identify stigma differences between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Interviewees from Alabama, USA (n=537) rated two types of stigma (damage to social reputation and “moral weakness”) for seven infections ranging from “nuisance” conditions (e.g., pubic lice) to life-threatening disease (e.g., HIV/AIDS). When asked which of the seven STIs would be most damaging to reputation, 74.8% of respondents chose HIV/AIDS. However, when asked to choose which STI represented moral weakness in infected persons, HIV/AIDS was rated as significantly lower than the other STIs, which suggests that HIV/AIDS is perceived differently than non-HIV STIs. This study ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Lichtenstein, Bronwen, Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2010

Despite the application of Self-Efficacy Theory (Bandura, 1977, 2000) to many areas of psychology, there is a lack of research on self-efficacy in the ability to testify in court. The present study fills this gap by incrementally developing the construct of Witness Self-Efficacy and establishing its psychometric properties. Study I featured exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses yielding a two-factor Witness Self-Efficacy Scale (WSES). The two components are Poise and Communication Style. Study II used a second data collection to show that both WSES domains possess convergent, divergent, and predictive validity relations consistent with those expected using an SET framework. Notably, ...

Contributors
Cramer, Robert J., Neal, Tess M.S., DeCoster, Jamie, et al.
Created Date
2010

This study examined the scope and components of mitigation assessments in a first effort to develop some guidelines for conducting mitigation evaluations. Using the Mitigation Evaluations Survey (MES) we developed for this research, we surveyed 266 psychologists about the characteristics and content of mitigation evaluations. A high percentage of participants endorsed each of the 14 content areas presented in the MES as essential or recommended for inclusion in mitigation evaluations. However, when the participants were given a hypothetical open-ended referral question regarding a mitigation evaluation, fewer participants included all 14 content areas in their responses. This discrepancy as well as ...

Contributors
Barnett, Michelle E., Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2011

Prosecutors are handling increasing numbers of criminal cases concerning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How these prosecutors handle such cases may reflect their attitudes toward veterans or offenders with PTSD. In turn, their attitudes may affect perceptions of blameworthiness, as well as negotiations about sentencing during the pre-trial stage. The present study investigated the effect of a defendant’s military experience and mental health status (i.e., PTSD) on prosecutors’ offers at the pre-trial stage and their ratings of the defendant’s blameworthiness. Prosecutors’ offers were more lenient to stress-disordered veterans; specifically, they ...

Contributors
Wilson, Jennifer Kelly, Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S., et al.
Created Date
2011

This study examined how manipulations of likeability and knowledge affected mock jurors’ perceptions of female and male expert witness credibility (N=290). Our findings extend the person perception literature by demonstrating how warmth and competence overlap with existing conceptions of likeability and credibility in the psycholegal domain. We found experts high in likeability and/or knowledge were perceived equally positively regardless of gender in a death penalty sentencing context. Gender differences emerged when the expert was low in likeability and/or knowledge; in these conditions the male expert was perceived more positively than the comparable female expert. Although intermediate judgments (e.g., perceptions of ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Guadagno, Rosanna E., Eno, Cassie A., et al.
Created Date
2012

Aside from an article by Gutheil, Bursztajn, Hilliard, and Brodsky (2004), scant literature exists regarding why forensic mental health professionals refuse or withdraw from cases. The current study collected descriptive information about the reasons mental health experts decline or withdraw from forensic assessments, both early and late in the legal process. In response to an online survey, 29 practicing forensic psychologists and psychiatrists presented examples of case withdrawal from their professional experiences. Their major reasons included ethical issues or conflicts, payment difficulties, and interpersonal or procedural problems with retaining counsel or evaluees. The results indicate that there are compelling personal ...

Contributors
Brodsky, Stanley L., Wilson, Jennifer Kelly, Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2013

Tess Neal is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the ASU New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and is a founding faculty member of the Program on Law and Behavioral Science. Dr. Neal has published one edited book and more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications in such journals as PLOS ONE; Psychology, Public Policy, and Law; and Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Neal is the recipient of the 2016 Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Excellence in Psychology and Law, co-awarded by the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. She was named a 2016 "Rising Star" by the Association for Psychological Science, a designation that recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD "whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions." She directs the ASU Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab.