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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2011 Apr;55(4):385-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2011.01383.x. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

Perceived credibility and eyewitness testimony of children with intellectual disabilities.

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1
Department of Psychology, London South Bank University, London, UK. henrylc@lsbu.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although children with intellectual disabilities (ID) often provide accurate witness testimony, jurors tend to perceive their witness statements to be inherently unreliable.

METHOD:

The current study explored the free recall transcripts of child witnesses with ID who had watched a video clip, relative to those of typically developing (TD) age-matched children, and assessed how mock jurors perceived these transcripts in the absence of knowledge of group (ID or TD) membership. A further aim of this research was to determine whether perceptions of credibility were associated with levels of free recall and witness characteristics (anxiety and mental age).

RESULTS:

Mock jurors rated the testimony of children with ID as less credible than that of a TD age-matched comparison group. This was largely because of the transcripts of the children with ID containing fewer details than those of the TD children. Anxiety and mental age were found to have no effect on perceived levels of credibility.

CONCLUSIONS:

It appears that even in the absence of knowledge of whether a child does or does not have ID, this factor still affects perceptions of credibility among mock jurors. Our findings suggest that fundamental differences in the quality of the witness transcripts lead to lower perceptions of credibility for children with ID.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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