Can you imagine being in a position where others’ perception of your performance directly determined whether or not you would be freed from jail? In the few short weeks in this program, many discussions have centered around the power of words and subjective personal interpretation. In table 13.2  in Chapter 13, Levi (2011) outlines “Perceptual Biases: The Common Ways People Misperceive Others,” defining “selective perception” as “the tendency to focus on and remember only information that confirms our beliefs and to ignore information that contradicts them.”

The verdict in the Amanda Knox appeal was announced today. The decision: not guilty and the murder conviction from 2009 was overturned. Amanda’s job in her final statement was to convince the majority of the jurors that she was wrongly accused of the murder of her Perugian roommate, Meredith Kercher. If she could convince four of six jurors of her innocence, she would be free to go home after four years in an Italian jail. However, the Italian defense team has been besmirching Knox’s character for years, painting the picture of a perverse and violent human being. How do you prepare for the speech of your life? How do you change people’s preconceptions about you? Furthermore, how do you maintain (or recover) your personal image of self, after suffering years of public ridicule and accusation? Here is an excerpt from part of Amanda’s final statement (CNN.com):

“People always ask ‘who is Amanda Knox?'” she said. “I am the same person I was four years ago. … The only thing that now separates me from four years ago is my suffering. In 4 years, I’ve lost my friends in the most terrible and unexplainable way. My trust in the authorities and the police has been damaged. I had to face charges that were totally unfair, without any basis. And I am paying with my life for something I haven’t done.”

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