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Chapter 6

PSYCH 3CC3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Free Recall, Behavioural Sciences, Suggestibility


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 3CC3
Professor
Richard B Day
Chapter
6

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Many children recanted confessions after executions
Salem Witch Trials - 1692
Followed for 300 years afterwards
Children are highly suggestible and have difficulty separating fact from fantasy and can't give accurate testimony
regardless of it's personal significance
Negative Attitudes towards kid's testimonies
1. Expert psychological testimony was becoming more acceptable in the courtroom.
2. Social scientists were interested in research that could be applied to real-world problems.
Increased # of sexual and child abuse cases
4. The legal community became interested in behavioural science research regarding child witnesses.
Ceci and Bruck (1993) outlined four factors that led to the renewed interest in child witnesses:
Police officers were responsible in deciding whether a case would go onto prosecution
Corroborative evidence
1)
Suspect denied allegations
2)
Questioning technique was not important
Important qualities in their decisions:
Powell, Murfett & Thomson
Research on children’s witness abilities started in the 1970s
Horrible allegations of sexual abuse & ritualistic murders
Many kids testified for abuse against this babysitting couple
Leading questions that rewarded kids for the right answer
Eventually everyone was acquitted of all charges against them
Martensville Babysitting Case
History
Children are able to give accurate testimonies depending on the way they are interviewed
Depends on interviewing techniques
Hard to tell when they are accurate vs. when they are fabricating (making false claims)
Recall for Events
But, report very little information, need direct probing
Free Recall = accuracy comparable to adults
Older children are more resistant to leading questions than young children. But, adults are the most resistant
Direct leading questions = erroneous responses
When questions were unanswerable, less likely to answer 'I don't know to' yes/no questions
When questions were answerable, children performed equally to yes/no questions & wh- questions
Forced-choice, yes/no questions are really bad for preschoolers (5-9)
Direct questions that require yes or no responses or use a forced-choice format are
particularly problematic for preschoolers ( Peterson & Biggs, 1997 ). For example, Waterman,
Blades, and Spencer (2004 ) interviewed children between the ages of 5 and 9. First, a
woman went into children’s classrooms and engaged them in a discussion about familiar
topics for approximately ten minutes. The woman showed children four photographs: two
of pets and two of food items. After the woman had left, researchers then interviewed the
children using questions that required yes or no answersthat is, yes/no questions (e.g.,
“Did the lady show you a picture of a banana?”) and wh-questions (e.g., “What was the
lady’s name?”). Half of both types of questions were unknown to the children (e.g., “How
did the lady get to school this morning?). In these cases, the correct response should be “I
don’t know.” Children performed similarly across both types of questions when they were
Waterman, Blades & Spencer
Free recall vs. Directed Questioning
Ch. 6 - Child Victims & Witnesses
Sunday, October 26, 2014
10:32 AM
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don’t know.” Children performed similarly across both types of questions when they were
answerable. However, when questions were unanswerable, children were more likely to
say “I don’t knowto wh- questions than yes/no questions. We see that yes/no questions
are particularly problematic for children. Melnyk, Crossman, and Scullin (2006 ) sug-
gested that this may be the case because these questions rely on recognition rather than
recall, thus increasing the likelihood of error. Using recall (e.g., “Tell me everything you
remember”) may elicit brief responses, but those responses are more likely to be accurate.
We will discuss recall and recognition in greater detail later in the chapter.
Questions based on recognition are more erroneous than those based on recall
Best question to get evaluative information (emotional, cognitive & physical reactions)
How did you feel ?
Memory for actual event may remain intact, if later questioned non-suggestively, they can report an accurate response
Respond to interviewer in the way they think they desire
i.e., is milk bigger than water
Age 5 - 7 were asked nonsensical yes/no questions with no correct answer
Many kids gave yes or no answer rather than I don’t know
Hughes & Grieve
Social Compliance / Social Pressure
1.
Children misattribute where information came from
Report the suggestion actually occurred
Developmental changes in cognitive or memory system
2.
Balance asking direct questions with risk of getting false info
Rely on free-recall as much as possible
Interaction between social and cognitive factors
Why are children more suggestible than adults?
Techniques, procedures & protocols to aid child testimony recall:
Doll consistent with male/female anatomy
Assumption: easier to demonstrate the events that occurred than to verbalize them
# of details provided was comparable to open-ended questions
Young children (3 - 6) were more likely to use the dolls, rather than be verbal
Older children (7-12) explained verbally
When direct questions were asked…
Young children were more likely to use the dolls suggestively and contradict details given verbally
Thierry, Lam, Orbach & Pipe
Contrary to the above results, Goodman, Quas, Batterman-Faunce, Riddlesberger, and Kuhn (1997 ) found that 3- to 10-year-
olds who had been touched during an examination were more likely to report such touching with dolls than when questioned
orally. In another study, Saywitz, Goodman, Nicholas, and Moan (1991 ) interviewed 5- and 7-year-old girls who had received a
physical examination. For half the girls, a genital examination was included. In this study, many of the children failed to report
genital touching when they were asked for a verbal report of their examination, or they failed to show on the dolls what
had actually happened. However, when asked a direct questionsuch as “Did the doctor touch you here?”—many of the
children correctly agreed. Children who had not received the genital examination never made false reports of genital
touching in either the oral free recall or the doll-enactment conditions. For this group, very few errors were made when the
experimenter pointed to the genital area of the doll and asked, “Did the doctor touch you here?” In a similar study, Melinder
et al. (2010 ) compared the memory reports of a medical exam of 4-year-olds who were interviewed using either a verbal-type
interview or a prop-assisted interview that included dolls and play material. On a final recall test, error rates were similar for
the two types of interviews. It is important to note that other factors such as parental attachment ( Chae, Ogle, & Goodman,
2009 ) may interact with interview style to influence accuracy in reporting.
No standard procedure or doll appearance
Use of the dolls can be inaccurate and dangerous for diagnosing sexual abuse
Anatomically Detailed Dolls
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No standard procedure or doll appearance
No research on if non-abused vs. abused kids play with dolls different
Other techniques:
Germany 1950s - Udo Undeutsch - distinguish true from false statements
Credibility assessment of sexual abuse allegations
Structured interview with the child witness
1)
Most important part
Systematic analysis of the verbal content of the child's statements using CBCA
2)
Application of the statement validity checklist
3)
Protocol to distinguish true or false statement by children containing 3 parts:
Statement validity analysis
Apart of a more comprehensive protocol now
Assumption: descriptions of real events differ in quality and content of fabricated memories
True events are more likely to have CBCA criteria
Inconsistencies with # of criteria needed to be truthful
Ruby & Brigham
Young children can't give enough detail to be deemed truthful
Age is positively correlated with scores on CBCA
Score influenced by how familiar the event is and how old the child is
Pezdek et al
Critiques
CBCA component
Criterion-based content analysis (CBCA)
Start interview with the least leading and directive type of questioning, then proceed to more specific questions if necessary
Give kids lots of chances at free-narratives before direct questioning
Goal: keep false claims down
Yuille's steps
Step-wise Interview
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