PSYC 3310 Final Exam
Chapter 5: Child Victims and Witnesses
Ceci & Bruck (1993) traces back some early views of child witnesses during the Salem
Witch Trials of 1692 when children told falsehoods and claims of witchcraft. They also
outline several factors that contributed to the renewed interest in child witnesses.
o Expert psychological testimony becoming more acceptable in court
o Social scientists research on real-world problem applications
o Studies on adult eyewitness testimonies
o Legal community interested in behavioral science regarding child witnesses
Early reviews concluded that young children were highly susceptible and had difficulty
distinguishing fact from fantasy (Whipple, 1909-1912).
Free Recall versus Directed Questioning
Free Narrative Speech: Comparable to adults
Directed Questioning: Forced choice format leads to highly suggestible leads.
Why are Children more suggestible than adults: Social Compliance/Pressure, Cognition
Criterion-Based Content Analysis: Analysis that uses criteria to distinguish truthful
from false statements made by children.
Statement Validity Analysis: A comprehensive protocol to distinguish truthful and false
statements made by children through (1) a structured interview, (2) a systematic analysis
of the verbal content (criterion-based), and (3) the application of the statement validity
Step-Wise Interview: Interview protocol with a series of “steps” designed to start the
interview with the least leading and directive type of questioning, and then proceed to
more specific forms of questioning as necessary. Commonly used in Canada. Yuille.
Narrative Elaboration: An interview procedure whereby children learn to organize their
story into relevant categories such as participants, settings, actions, consequences, etc.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Interview
Protocol: open-ended questioning with two types of prompts to interviewers.
Cognitive Interview: Limits use of direct questioning. Has more success than control.
Recall Memory and Recognition
Lindsay and Read (1995) have suggested five criteria to consider when determining the
veracity of a recovered memory: (1) Age of complainant when abuse occurred, (2)
Techniques used to recover memory, (3) Similarity of reports across interview sessions,
(4) Motivation for recall, (5) Time elapse since the alleged abuse
o Leichtman and Ceci (1995) conducted an experiment about “the stranger who
came to the classroom” and interviewed the children afterwards.
Elimination Lineup: Lineup procedure that first asks them to pick out the person who
looks like the culprit the most.
Competency Inquiry: Questions directed at child understanding the difference between
truth and lie. Used in Canada prior to 2006. Lecture (February 28, 2013)
Alfred Binet published “La Suggestibilite” which studies suggestibility of children
between 7 to 14.
McMartensville Case (1992) highlighted manipulative nature of children. Similar case
involved the Wee Care Nursery Case (1985) in the states.
Memory is a constructive process.
Biased Questioning often start with preconceived view of interviewers.
Ceci et al. used a “Simon Says” study. Accurate information often led to higher accuracy
while misinformation led to higher corroborated information and inaccuracy.
Lepore & Sesco (1994): Dale and “Take off the sweater” experiment.
Leitchman & Ceci (1997): “Sam Stone” visits classroom and leaves shortly. Errors were
higher in younger children than older children.
Influential Elements in Children’s Testimony
o Interviewers’ beliefs and biases
o Repeating and Misleading Questions
o Peer Pressure
o Status/Power Difference and Stereotype Inducement
Recommendations: avoid confirmatory biases, encourage child to say much in own words,
general questions to prompt recall, specific and not leading, document details, recordings.
Environment: Courtrooms can be formal and intimidating. Stressful for child.
o Child can feel anxiety, trouble communicating, and memory lapses.
o Saywitz & Nathanson (1993) describe higher stress for children interviewed in
courtrooms compared to their own school.
Limitations: Inferred Demeanor (relaxation in child, loss of authenticity, juror skepticism)
Ross et al. (1994) noted higher conviction rate for in-court child testimony.
Children over 5 comparable to adults in identifying in target-present lineup. Target-
absent lineup has children as old as 14 identify an innocent person.
Chapter 6: Juries: Fact Finders
Juries Act: Provincial and territorial legislation that outlines jury eligibility and selection.
Jury Summons: A court order that states a time and place to go for jury duty.
Preemptory Challenge: Used to reject jurors who they believe are unlikely to reach a
verdict in their favor.
Challenging for Cause: An option to reject biased jurors.
R. v. Sherratt (1991) indicated jury representativeness and impartiality.
Steblay, Besirevic, Fulero, and Jimenez-Lorente (1991) noted studies examining the
effects of pretrial publicity.
Jury Nullification: Occurs when a jury ignores the law and the evidence, rendering a
verdict based on some other criteria.
Canada requires jury to reach a unanimous verdict whereas US only requires a majority. Black Sheep Effect: When evidence is strong, similarity between defendant and jury
leads to punitiveness.
Rotenberg, Hewlett, and Siegwart (1998) notes the big five personality traits of jury
persuasiveness to convince other jurors.
Schuller, Smith, and Olsen (1994) examined the impact of pre-existing beliefs about
crimes, which may have a direct influence on jury decisions on the case.
Lecture (March 7, 2013)
Interest Prejudice: results from interest/stake in the outcome of the trial.
Specific Prejudice: attitudes or beliefs about specific issues relevant to the case (pretrial).
Pretrial publicity can be factually-biasing or emotionally-biasing.
Simon & Eimermann (1971) and Moran & Cutler (1991) examined field studies of
pretrial publicity (weakness: unable to link PTP to jury decision-making) while Kramer
et al. (1990) and Otto et al. (1994) examined jury simulations (weakness: judicial safety).
Steblay et al. (1999) examined meta-analysis on the effects of PTP on verdicts as well as
exposure to negative PTP to higher guilty verdicts.
Normative Prejudice: strong community influence
Generic Prejudice: pre-existing attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes.
Remedies of partiality include adjournment, change of venue, challenge for cause, or
burden is on the party requesting remedy to partial jurors.
Two-Stage Process: Judge must be satisfied that there is a reasonable probability that
jurors are partial, and prospective jurors are questioned if judge is satisfied.
Potential Problems to challenge: lack of awareness of existing biases, failure to
understand how decisions are affected by biases, and lacking motivation to correct biases.
Preliminary results: aims to remove potential jurors who harbor racial biases, but in
reality removes those who proclaim biases, have inadequate English, have uncertainty or
nervousness, and asked to be excused yet denied by judge to do so.
Mathematical approach to jury decision-making: balance relevancy and strength of
each side of argument to reach a verdict, but has unwanted influence that can be biased.
Explanation-based approach to jury decision-making: focus on representation, active
decision-making, and elaboration.
o Story-Model (Pennington & Haste, 1986) use timeline reconstruction of evidence.
Story Construction: Narrative-construction.
Verdict Representation: categorization of verdict definitions.
Story Classification: Matching the story with one verdict definition.
o Story coherence affects perceptions of strength of evidence and verdict decisions.
Lecture (March 14, 2013)
“Boomerang” Effect: ineffectiveness of judicial instructions to be disregarded by jury.
Schuller & Hastings (2002): impact of complainant prior sexual history on juror
decisions. Presence of instructions had no or little impact.
Deliberation ideals are independent, equal, open, consensus, and non-influenced by
MacCoun & Kerr (1988) examine jury preferences at beginning of deliberations and at
the final verdict. Often termed the leniency bias.
Ellsworth (1988) examined evidence-driven and verdict-driven jury approaches. Deutsch & Gerrard (1955) examine informational (influence from new information)
and normative (influence from society expectations) social influences.
Hansen et al. (1993) argued that juries tend to be informational during beginning of trial
and shifts to normativity as the verdict nears.
US verdicts require jury majority while Canadian verdicts require unanimity.
Horowitz (1985) compared verdicts of juries who heard Maryland’s instructions (judge
as the guide), Radical instructions (jury as community representation), and Standard
Niedermeier et al. (1999): would jury nullification instructions amplify biases?
Schuller, Kazoleas, & Kawakami (2009): “The Impact of Prejudice Screening Procedures on
Racial Bias in the Courtroom.”
Impact of the “challenge for cause” procedure and its effectiveness in curbing racial
prejudice in trials involving Black defendants in Canada.
Voir Dire: less restrictive procedure that permits attorneys in US to question and
eliminate potential jurors who might harbor racial bias in their decisions.
Black defendants are more likely to be found guilty of crimes involving violence while
White defendants are more likely to be found guilty of crimes involving corruption.
Schuller & Hastings (2002): “Complainant Sexual History Evidence: Its Impact on Mock Jurors’
Impact of complainant sexual history evidence on mock jurors’ judgments in a sexual
assault trial. Misconceived stereotypes of rape victims and offenders often influenced.
Boomerang Effect: instructions enhancing the prejudicial impact of the evidence.
Overcorrection/Spill-Over Effect: Presence of the instructions reduces the credibility of
other evidence presented at trial.
Chapter 7: The Role of Mental Illness in Court
Fitness to Stand Trial
R. v. B