The present experiment examined whether attributions of blame for an incident can be shifted between individuals as a result of a leading eyewitness statement. Participants watched a video of an accident involving two men and then read either a non-leading eyewitness statement that blamed no one for the accident or a leading eyewitness statement that blamed one of the two men for the accident. Participants’ attributions of blame for the accident were then assessed either immediately or after a 1 week delay. Regardless of the time delay, just over one-third of participants who read a leading statement subsequently blamed the same person as the eyewitness. In contrast, less than 4% of participants who read a non-leading statement blamed one of the men. This research is the first to demonstrate blame conformity, where blame for an incident can be shifted between individuals as a result of a leading eyewitness statement.
Thorley, C., & Rushton-Woods, J. (2013). Blame Conformity: Leading Eyewitness Statements Can Influence Attributions of Blame for an Accident. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(3), 291-296. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.2906