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The Believability of Repressed Memories

Jonathan M. Golding, Sandra A. Sego, Rebecca Polley Sanchez and Dawn Hasemann
Law and Human Behavior
Vol. 19, No. 6 (Dec., 1995), pp. 569-592
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1394244
Page Count: 24
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The Believability of Repressed Memories
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Abstract

Two experiments investigated how mock jurors react to a case involving a repressed memory of child sexual assault. Subjects read a fictional civil trial (Experiment 1) or criminal trial (Experiment 2) summary involving the sexual assault of a 6-year-old female. The summary was presented in one of three conditions: (a) child condition: the alleged victim reported her memory of the assault in the same year that the assault occurred; (b) repressed condition: the alleged victim reported the assault 20 years later, after remembering it for the first time; or (c) no-repressed condition: the alleged victim reported the assault 20 years later, but the memory of the assault had been present for the 20 years. Although the testimony of the alleged victim was believed to some extent in all conditions, the alleged victim in the child condition was believed at the highest level, and this was associated with more decisions against the defendant. The results are discussed in terms of how delayed reporting of child sexual assault crimes is associated with lower believability of the alleged victim.

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