The Saliency of Gestural Misinformation in the Perception of a Violent Crime
Recent research has revealed that misinformation from gestures can influence eyewitness memory. However, while the effects of verbal influence have been shown to have major impacts on prosecution, gestural misinformation is yet to demonstrate misinformation effects to this extent. To investigate the salience of suggestions provided nonverbally, and how these compare to those made verbally, two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, participants watched footage of a crime scene and were presented with one of two types of gestures during questioning that suggested different interpretations of the crime. The results confirmed that the gestures influenced responses with participants altering their interpretation of the crime according to the information gestured to them. Experiment 2 built on this to investigate how comparable this gestural influence was to verbal influence. The results revealed that gestural misinformation caused participants to alter their interpretation of the crime and elicited the same effects as verbal misinformation. Additionally, participants were less likely to have felt misled from gestures as they were from speech. These results reveal new insights into the strength of gestural misinformation and show that, despite their subtle nature in communication, gestures can exert a powerful influence in eyewitness interviews.