Nuns as Credible Witnesses

One of the factors that impacts on a person’s credibility is their job role.  Every society’s culture will bestow levels of status on roles, and by association on those people in those roles.

Status may be underpinned and supported by law. For example lawyers are deemed ‘Credible Witnesses’ in court under British law. Cultural assumptions and expectations are present, and have an impact on the perceived credibility of a person in a role. In practice this means that someone in a role will be assumed or expected to have more or less credibility than other role holders, depending on the role.

‘Role credibility’ was well illustrated in a crime novel I read.  A person of interest to the police had been killed.  The police officers investigating interviewed the witnesses to the killing who happened to be a group of elderly nuns. All the officers accepted the nun’s testimonies except for one police officer, who considered the complete consistency in all the nun’s testimonies to be highly unusual and he investigated further. He discovered that the nuns were lying.  They had been specifically selected to be witnesses because their story was expected to be believed. Their role bestowed credibility on what they said.

So how does this impact on the working environment?  It impacts because in every organisation   some roles will have more credibility than others. This credibility could be a result of the type of role, the job title, or the level of the role.  Role credibility is acceptable until it impacts negatively on the quality of decisions being made in teams and organisations by certain roles having excessive influence and input into them.  To ensure effective decisions will be made, it’s necessary to consider the impact of role credibility in any group discussion.

 

 

 

© Krista Powell Edwards  2021       

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