Hot cognition in investigative judgments: the differential influence of anger and sadness

Law Hum Behav. 2007 Dec;31(6):537-51. doi: 10.1007/s10979-006-9075-3. Epub 2006 Dec 8.


The authors predicted that the cognitive appraisal tendencies associated with sadness and anger would exert different influences on investigators' crime-related judgments. Supporting evidence was found in an experiment with 61 experienced criminal investigators. First, when judging the reliability of a witness statement, sad participants relied on their perception of both witness and situational variables, whereas angry participants relied only on their perception of witness variables. This corresponds to the emphasis placed on situational and individual control in the appraisals associated with sadness and anger, respectively. Second, when making judgments of the case, sad participants were sensitive to the consistency of a witness statement with the central hypothesis of the investigation, indicating substantive processing, whereas angry participants were unaffected by statement-hypothesis consistency, indicating heuristic processing. The findings suggest that the process of reliability assessment can be better understood by consulting theories of attribution and information processing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Anger*
  • Cognition*
  • Expressed Emotion*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Research*