Discernment of Children’s True and False Memory Reports: Police Officers and Laypersons

Adults’ ability to accurately evaluate children’s statements can have far-reaching consequences within the legal system. This study examined the evaluations of police officers (“experts”) and laypersons (“nonexperts”) when presented with videotaped interviews of children aged 3 and 5 years who provi...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Johnson, Hannah M. (Author)
Contributors: Block, Stephanie D. ; Shestowsky, Donna ; Gonzales, Joseph E. ; Shockley, Kristy L. ; Goodman, Gail S.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2024
In: Journal of interpersonal violence
Year: 2024, Volume: 39, Issue: 9/10, Pages: 2238-2260
Online Access: Volltext (lizenzpflichtig)
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Summary:Adults’ ability to accurately evaluate children’s statements can have far-reaching consequences within the legal system. This study examined the evaluations of police officers (“experts”) and laypersons (“nonexperts”) when presented with videotaped interviews of children aged 3 and 5 years who provided either true or false reports or denials. Participants were drawn from several counties in the eastern United States. Children’s interview statements fell within four statement types: accurate reports, false reports, accurate denials, and false denials. Both groups of participants displayed overbelief in false denials. Several control variables predicted accuracy, including children’s age and children’s race. A significant interaction emerged: Experts (vs. nonexperts) had greater odds of being accurate when judging false reports (vs. false denials). These findings highlight the challenges adults face when distinguishing between various types of children’s statements. The results have important implications for legal contexts, emphasizing that fact finders need to be mindful of the risks associated with both overaccepting false denials and accepting false reports.
ISSN:1552-6518
DOI:10.1177/08862605231220022