UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


UCARE Research Products

Date of this Version

Spring 2016

Document Type



Moody, S. A. (2016, April). The influence of emotional and situated social cognition factors on consents to search. Poster presented at the Spring Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.


Copyright (c) 2016 Sarah A. Moody


The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution holds that the government cannot conduct an unreasonable search or seizure without probable cause or consent. A surprising majority of people acquiesce to search requests and research is lacking in determining what factors play a role in these decisions. Findings from the current research on the roles of emotions and situated social cognition in consents to search may help police officers and other legal authority figures ensure against coercive or unfair consents. Based upon regression models constructed from the data, authority figures can alter their search requests to help prevent coercion. The current research examined emotional affect (a PANAS-X measure), room size, temperature, and lighting condition, and perceptions of the search request. Emotions in decision-making and situated social cognition have both been examined separately, but rarely together. It was hypothesized that participants would be affected by both situated social cognition and affective factors, though the latter will take more of a role. The results of this research can give insight to legal authority figures as to some factors that should be accounted for when interacting with suspects, especially in order to fairly obtain consent to a search request.