SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Purpose. Children's testimonies can be presented to the court in many different formats, for example, live, videotapes, closed-circuit television (CCTV) or transcripts. However, little is known about how different presentation formats affect the observers' processing of the testimonies. This study investigated how two different presentation modes (live vs. video) affected observers' perception, veracity assessments and memory of children's appearance and statements.

Method. Fourteen children (10–11 years old) either experienced an event or learned about the event by hearsay. Two weeks later, the children testified about the event as if they had all experienced it. Mock jurors watched the children's testimonies either live (N = 68) or on video (N = 68), rated their perception of the children's statement and appearance, and assessed the children's veracity. In addition, their memory of the children's statement was examined.

Results. The live observers perceived the children in more positive terms and rated the statements as being more convincing than did video observers. The observers rated the lying children as having to think harder than the truth-telling children. Both live and video observers' ability to assess the children's veracity was mediocre. Live observers had a better subjective, as well as objective, memory of the children's statements than video observers.

Conclusions. The results show that presentation mode influences both perception and memory of child witnesses' testimonies. We argue that the presentation mode is important to consider when evaluating and reforming courtroom procedures.