Replications and Limitations of a Two-Factor Model of Child Witness Credibility


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David F. Ross, Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 350 Holt Hall, Department 2803, 615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598.


Two experiments are reported that test the idea that jurors perceive child witnesses in terms of a 2-factor model of credibility with the factors defined as cognitive ability and honesty (Leippe & Romanczyk, 1987; Ross, Millers, & Moran, 1989). In the first experiment, 300 mock jurors watched a realistic videotaped recreation of a sexual abuse trial and rated the credibility of the child witness. Mock jurors perceived the child witness in terms of 2 factors: cognitive ability and honesty. Only honesty predicted verdict. These findings were replicated in Experiment 2 (N= 300) when only the child's testimony was presented and the perceptions of the child witness were not contaminated by the testimony of the other witnesses in the trial.