A new study from the University of Gothenburg, show that aspiring lawyers assess child complainants as more credible and truthful if they communicate their statement in an emotional manner. Thus, there is a risk that children that behave in a neutral manner may be perceived as less credible in court.
In an experimental legal psychology study, two young actors (one girl and one boy) portrayed victims in a mock-police investigation. They were questioned by the police about how they had been harassed by older schoolmates.
The police interviews were videotaped in two versions: In one version the children appeared in a neutral manner but in the other version, the children showed clear signs of distress, as they sobbed and hesitated before answering the police officers’ questions.
The films were later shown and assessed by law students that were familiar with the Supreme Court’s criteria for how to assess the credibility of testimonies.
The results show that the children, despite giving the exact same testimonies, were perceived as more credible and truthful when expressing emotions than when behaving in a more neutral manner. The reason for these differences was that the law students had stereotypical believes that child victims should appear emotional. The law students also felt greater compassion for the emotional children.
‘This is problematic since many children don’t display strong negative emotions when questioned by police,’ says Sara Landström, researcher in legal psychology at the Department of Psychology. ‘There is a risk that these children will be considered less credible in court.’
Since witnesses and technical evidence are often lacking in cases involving child abuse, courts are often forced to rely solely on the victim’s own testimony ‘It is therefore very important that courts assess the credibility of a testimony based on what children say and not on how they say it,’ says Sara Landström.
The study is presented in an article titled Children's Testimony and the Emotional Victim Effect, which was published in the British journal Legal and Criminological Psychology in December. The article was written by Sara Landström, Karl Ask, Charlotte Sommar and Rebecca Willén from the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.
For more information, please contact
Sara Landström, PhD, +46 (0)31 786 4291, firstname.lastname@example.org
The study was conducted by the researchers within the Research Unit for Criminal, Legal and Investigative Psychology (CLIP), at the Department of Psychology, the University of Gothenburg. The study was funded by the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority.
Ann-Sofie Sten | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering