Forensic psychology draws from what fields in psychology?
Cognitive - intellectual processes Perception - face recognition Social - Stanford experiment Clinical - criminal profiling, personality disorders Personality - some people are more at risk of offences Developmental - do children eyewitnesses attitudes towards justice change over time?
When can questioning of the child occur? (2 ways)
Pretrial (investigative interviews) by psychologist, counselor or barrister During Court appearance (cross examination)
Discuss issues with the Mr Bubbles case in NSW 1988.
Simple allegation by "problem" mother Group Abuse alleged Police encouraged parents to question their children Inexperienced Interviewers Inappropriate questioning techniques Increasingly bizarre allegations Case thrown out Something MAY have happened to 1 or 2 children
What are 6 inappropriate questioning techniques?
1. Positive Consequences 2. Negative Consequences 3. Co-witness Information 4. Invite Speculation 5. Introduce Information 6. Suggestive Questions
Positive Consequences Interview Technique
Praise & rewards for statements that meet interviewers expectations "If you make a statement, Billy, you're being a good boy"
Negative Consequences Interview Technique
Express disapproval of answers Repeat questions until desired answer given
Co-witness Information Technique
"Others have told us..." Social pressure to conform
Invite Speculation Technique
Often on bizarre allegations "Where do you think he would have touched her?"
Introduce Information Questioning Technique
Often on bizarre allegations Can become internalised
Suggestive Questions Technique
"He hurt you, didn't he?
Stereotype Induction Technique
Inducing a belief about a person They will be more likely to agree that the person has offended "We know X does bad things; We can help put him in jail"
Yes/No Questions Technique
Tend to imply that you should agree
Option-Posing Questions Technique
"Were you in the living room or the bedroom?"
Why are these questioning techniques inappropriate for children?
Play on the childrens limited cognitions Childrens problem solving and and understanding of the world is limited Children are easily suggestible Memory weakness is a vulnerability
How does childrens limited social/emotional development interfere with their testimony?
Suggestibility: acquiesce to authority Individual differences in self-esteem/confidence (may not stand up to an adult) Irrational fears - giving evidence about someone may have consequences Pressure from parents/coaching
What do children misunderstand about the legal system?
Need to prove their OWN innocence If they don't say the right thing, they might go to jail The role of the witness
How is cognitive and social-emotional development interlinked?
Dealing with emotions such as fear & shyness can interfere with cognitive processes (memory, working out what the question is) Social cognition - "Why is this person asking me all these questions?"
Why is the court a child-unfriendly place?
Intimidating, unfamiliar context Purpose of the court may not be clear Legal jargon Confrontational tone Face-to-face with accused Need to repeat distressing/embarrassing evidence No support for child in distress
How can we protect & help children while also protecting the rights of the accused?
Reduce delays in proceedings Preparation for court appearances Child friendly spaces around court Appear by video-link Pretrial recordings of interviews Training personnel to use appropriate language
What 2 types of memory are there?
Passive - watching a movie and recounting it a week later Deliberate - studying for a test
What are children's language limitations?
Receptive language - not being able to understand the questions asked Vocab - unfamiliar words important to the case Grammar - can't understand passive voice (children acquire these language skills later) Embedded clauses or phrases
How can this embedded question be improved? "When the man who visited your house knocked on the door what did he say?"
1. "I want to ask you about the man who visited your house." 2. "When he knocked on the door, what did he say?"
What are common language limitations for interviewers?
1. Rapid switching of topic (need to announce new topic) 2. Long and complex sentences 3. Multiple questions with no opportunity to reply 4. Unclear references ("when did THAT happen?", "Were THEY there?") Need to be clear and explicit!
What is comprehension monitoring? If someone asks a child a question, and they don't know what it means. Need to:
Identify the Problem (can be tricky) Select appropriate strategy - admit they dont understand, ask question to be repeated Social Emotional Skills - when a question is asked, a child feels expected to answer
In Saywitz's (1995) study, how did he train children to monitor and report lack of comprehension?
Trained to signal lack of comprehension (asked them silly questions) Train to stand up to adults
What 3 conditions (groups) were used in Saywitz' study?
1. No intervention 2. Simple Instruction ("tell me if you don't understand") 3. Comprehension Monitoring Strategy Training
How did the training in Saywitz's study affect the children?
Indicated lack of comprehension Asked for rephrasing
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Chapter 11: Interviewing children and memories of sexual abuse