Friday, May 6, 2011

Psychology, law, and witness contamination

Dr. Larry White, a psychology professor at Beloit College and also a coauthor of mine on false confessions, recently alerted me to some interesting law and psychology articles for criminal defense lawyers.  When reviewing the studies, two in particular caught my attention.

In Forensic Interviewing Aids: Do Props Help Children Answer Questions About Touching?, the authors state that, despite the claims of child advocates that children are “concrete thinkers” and are aided by the use of anatomical dolls and diagrams, the evidence shows otherwise.  In fact, studies show that dolls and diagrams do little to increase the accuracy of reporting in controlled studies, and actually increase the incidence of false allegations of touching.  In Current Issues and Advances in Misinformation Research, the authors discuss how various types of post-incident events, including discussion of the event with other witnesses, can contaminate memories and lead to inaccurate reporting. 

Dr. White forwarded several other articles, all of which can be accessed in this free issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science.  Enjoy!

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