Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
The purpose of this study was to examine jurors’ perceptions of different types of memory errors in the context of a child recalling information about alleged maltreatment. Additionally, this study assessed whether developmental differences in memory errors affect jurors’ perceptions of the child, the external influences that may be affecting the child, and the defendant. Participants (N=372) were randomly assigned to one of eight vignettes that contained three different memory errors (major reconstructive memory error, minor reconstructive memory error, source monitoring error) or a control condition (no memory error), as well as two age groups (4-year-old child and 6-year-old child). After reading the vignettes, participants answered questions that addressed the credibility of the child, the external influences that may be affecting what the child remembers, and the guilt of the defendant. The participants answered dichotomous questions that assessed defendant guilt and child credibility. This study found that regardless of type of memory error or age of the child, if a child engaged in any of the aforementioned memory errors they were seen as less credible, more subject to external influences, and the defendant was rated as less guilty. When a child engaged in a major reconstructive error or a source monitoring error, the juror was more likely to rate the defendant as not guilty. When the child made a memory error, the potential juror was nearly 5 times more likely to rate the child as not credible. This study shows that jurors are not discriminating between types of memory errors.
Deming, Emily Margaret, "Jurors' Perceptions of Preschoolers and Younger School Aged Children's Memory Errors" (2019). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3874.