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‘Does the jury really need to hear it all?’: the effect of evidence presentation practice on jury assessment of children's eyewitness testimony

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Abstract:

This research provided an analysis of whether the presentation of a rapport stage to ‘jury’ members would influence their assessment of the quality and veracity of the subsequent testimony elicited. Three hundred and twenty-three participants aged between 18 and 78 years took part. Participants read a mock transcript of an investigative interview transcript and then completed a questionnaire with questions designed to test their assessment of the child, the interview, and the likely case progression. The transcript was manipulated so that participants were either presented with the rapport stage in full, or were merely told that the rapport stage had been conducted. There were further manipulations of child age (4 or 6 years) and child gender. There was a single main effect of rapport stage presentation (p<.001). Presentation of the rapport stage led to an enhanced participant assessment of child honesty and understanding, interviewer fairness and professionalism, and the likelihood that the alleged perpetrator would go to court and receive a custodial sentence. The results suggested that the practice of editing children's testimony for presentation in court should be conducted consistently; either all rapport stages should be presented in full (recommended), or all rapport stages should be omitted.

Keywords: child witness; eyewitness testimony; gender differences; jury decision making; language

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2011.579904

Affiliations: Department of Psychology,Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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