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Expert Testimony Regarding Child Witnesses: Does It Sensitize Jurors to Forensic Interview Quality?

Julie A. Buck, Kamala London and Daniel B. Wright
Law and Human Behavior
Vol. 35, No. 2 (April 2011), pp. 152-164
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41488983
Page Count: 13
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Expert Testimony Regarding Child Witnesses: Does It Sensitize Jurors to Forensic Interview Quality?
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Abstract

Does expert testimony on forensic interviews with children help adults distinguish between poorly conducted and well-conducted interviews? This study evaluates the effects of social framework expert testimony regarding child witnesses in a case involving allegations of child sexual abuse. A 2 (Expert Testimony: present or absent) × 3 (Child Forensic Interview Quality: poor, typical, or good) × 2 (Child's Age: 4-or 10-year-old) factorial design was used to examine whether expert testimony is prejudicial or beneficial to jurors (N = 463). The results revealed that, without expert testimony, mock jurors did not consider the forensic interview quality when reaching a verdict. However, with expert testimony, mock jurors were more likely to render guilty verdicts if the interview quality was good versus poor. Further expert testimony increased mock jurors' knowledge about child witnesses. These findings suggest that expert testimony related to the impact of interview techniques on the reliability of children's reports may assist fact-finders in evaluating child abuse cases.

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