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The education of jury members: Influences on the determinations of child witnesses

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The present study investigated the impact of an education program on jurors' abilities to reach truth during trials with child witnesses. The experiments took the form of staged trials, with actors filling the roles of judge, prosecution, defence and defendant. Participants from the general community served as mock jurors in small groups. Prior to the trial, half of the juries were provided with an education package which served to introduce them to the main empirical findings within the child witness literature. Within each education condition, half of the juries viewed accurate child witness testimony during the trial and half viewed an inaccurate version. Analyses of the trial questionnaires revealed significant effects of education on the accuracy of verdicts, with more educated jurors making correct verdict determinations than did uneducated jurors. Educated jurors' perceptions of the child witnesses were also more accurate overall than those of uneducated jurors.
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Keywords: Child witnesses; juries; juror perceptions; jury education; suggestibility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia 2: School of Psychology, School of Social Work and Applied Human Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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