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Child Eyewitnesses Staci R. Devera Eyewitness Seminar University of Northern Iowa.

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Presentation on theme: "Child Eyewitnesses Staci R. Devera Eyewitness Seminar University of Northern Iowa."— Presentation transcript:

1 Child Eyewitnesses Staci R. Devera Eyewitness Seminar University of Northern Iowa

2 Importance of Child Eyewitnesses The child may be the only witness The child may be the only witness The child may be a key witness The child may be a key witness Consequences of excluded child witness evidence Consequences of excluded child witness evidence (Thomson, 1989)

3 Problems with Child Witnesses The desire to please authority figuresThe desire to please authority figures Lack of complete moral understandingLack of complete moral understanding (Ornstein & Davies, 1997) Embellish the story moreEmbellish the story more Give answers; rather than say “I don’t know” (Krahenbuhl & Blades, 2006; Thomson; Goodman & Schaaf. 1997)

4 Problems with Child Witnesses Cognitive/Language limitationsCognitive/Language limitations Young Children are more susceptible to suggestionYoung Children are more susceptible to suggestion Lepore and Sesco (1994) StudyLepore and Sesco (1994) Study (Goodman & Schaaf. 1997)

5 Lepore and Sesco (1994) 4-6 year olds spent 5 min with a teaching assistant4-6 year olds spent 5 min with a teaching assistant The children were interviewed without delayThe children were interviewed without delay neutrallyneutrally Incriminating Interviewer Incriminating Interviewer (Goodman & Schaff 1997)

6 Results Incriminating interview children: falsely agree with the interviewerfalsely agree with the interviewer More errors over timeMore errors over time embellished their errorsembellished their errors (Goodman & Schaff 1997)

7 To be a competent witness Children must understand the obligation to the truthChildren must understand the obligation to the truth In order to comprehend the significance of a witness telling the truth, the child must be able to:In order to comprehend the significance of a witness telling the truth, the child must be able to: 1. Distinguishing true from false (Perner,1997)

8 To be a competent witness 2. Understanding knowledge and how it is formed 3. Understanding the effects of misinformation 4. Understand the moral implication of spreading misinformation (Perner,1997)

9 To be a competent witness 5. Understand the concept of lying 6. Understand the moral ties of social contracts (Perner,1997)

10 Interview Repetition Effects of repeated questions: Less accurateLess accurate Prone to suggestibilityProne to suggestibility Modify responsesModify responses (Larsson, Granhag, & Spjut, 2003)

11 Child Credibility Debate The credibility of child witnesses depends on ageThe credibility of child witnesses depends on age Credibility depends on subject matter and the way the evidence is shownCredibility depends on subject matter and the way the evidence is shown (Thomson, 1989)

12 Developmental Trends & Person Recognition 5-11 years of age, identification improves steadily 5-11 years of age, identification improves steadily 12 years old to 17 years old12 years old to 17 years old(Thomson)

13 Cognitive Interview (CI) Children over 7 years old benefit from CI techniqueChildren over 7 years old benefit from CI technique Improve memory retrieval Improve memory retrieval Improves communicationImproves communication Produces more correct responsesProduces more correct responses (Memon et al.,1996)

14 CI continued Try not to interrupt the witnessTry not to interrupt the witness Use open ended questionsUse open ended questions Lets the witness set the pace of the interviewLets the witness set the pace of the interview (Memon et al.,1996)

15 CI continued Helps reduce misleading questionsHelps reduce misleading questions Witnesses are more likely to respond “I don’t know”Witnesses are more likely to respond “I don’t know” (Memon et al.,1996)

16 Larsson, Granhag & Spjut (2003) Subjects were placed randomly in either the SI group of CI groupSubjects were placed randomly in either the SI group of CI group Shown a 15 min filmShown a 15 min film Asked questions about the film either 7 days or 6 months afterAsked questions about the film either 7 days or 6 months after

17 Larsson, Granhag & Spjut (2003) Results CI reported more correct information vs. SI condition.CI reported more correct information vs. SI condition. Shorter delay reported more correct information vs. longer delay periodShorter delay reported more correct information vs. longer delay period 6 month interviews reported more confabulations.6 month interviews reported more confabulations.

18 Larsson, Granhag & Spjut (2003) Results cont’ CI condition interviewed after 6months recalled approximately the same amount of correct information as children from the SI condition, interviewed only 7 days after. recalled approximately the same amount of correct information as children from the SI condition, interviewed only 7 days after.

19 Summary/Thoughts Child witness evidence should be taken seriously Child witness evidence should be taken seriously Proper techniques (CI) need to be administered during child interviews in order to get the most accurate information Proper techniques (CI) need to be administered during child interviews in order to get the most accurate information Record child interview, especially the 1 st time Record child interview, especially the 1 st time Training interviewers Training interviewers

20 References Larsson, Granhag & Spjut (2003). C Applied Cognitive Psychology 17, Larsson, Granhag & Spjut (2003). Children’s recall and the cognitive Interview do the positive effects hold over time. Applied Cognitive Psychology 17, Memon et al.,1996. Reducing suggestibility in child witness interviews. Applied Cognitive Psychology 10, Memon et al.,1996. Reducing suggestibility in child witness interviews. Applied Cognitive Psychology 10, Krahenbuhl & Blades, The effects of question repetition within interviews on young children’s eyewitness recall. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 94(1), Krahenbuhl & Blades, The effects of question repetition within interviews on young children’s eyewitness recall. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 94(1),

21 References Perner, 1997.Perner, Children's competency in understanding the role of a witness truth lies and moral ties. Applied Cognitive Psychology 11, Goodman & Schaaf, Over a decade of research on children’s eyewitness testimony what have we learned where do we go from here. Applied cognitive psychology, 11Goodman & Schaaf, Over a decade of research on children’s eyewitness testimony what have we learned where do we go from here. Applied cognitive psychology, 11 Thomson, date unknown. Reliability and Credibility of Children as Witnesses. Monash University.Thomson, date unknown. Reliability and Credibility of Children as Witnesses. Monash University.

22 Questions? Comments?


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