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Influence of eyewitness age and recall error on mock juror decision-making

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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to determine if child eyewitnesses are seen as more or less credible compared with older eyewitnesses and to determine whether the number of descriptive errors made while recalling the appearance of a perpetrator has an influence on perceived credibility of the witness. Mock jurors were given a mock trial that presented a positive identification by an eyewitness where age of the eyewitness (4-, 12-, 20-year-old) and the number of perpetrator descriptor errors (i.e., 0, 3, 6) made by the eyewitness were manipulated. Perceived levels of credibility, accuracy, and determinations of guilt were compared using a self-report questionnaire. Results support the hypothesis that mock jurors perceive eyewitnesses who make fewer errors in descriptions with more integrity (i.e., more credible, reliable, and accurate) and perceive the evidence presented by them (i.e., description of perpetrator and description of events) as more reliable. Overall, adult eyewitnesses are perceived with more integrity than child eyewitnesses.

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