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True, Partly False, and False Testimony of Child Witnesses: An Assessment of Credibility

Inga Lubāne, Sandra Beatrice Sebre
University of Latvia, Faculty of Pedagogy, Psychology and Art, Department of Psychology, Latvia.

Abstract. The credibility of child witness testimonies is an important and controversial issue in forensic psychology. Children from an early age can testify in legal proceedings, while children are able to give false testimony for a variety of reasons. Research to date has focused on examining the differences between true and falsified children’s testimony, but little is known about assessing the credibility of testimony that is partly true but partly falsified. This paper presents a small sample quasi experimental study that explained the differences between true, partly falsified, and completely falsified children’s stories, and clarified the methodology for conducting a broader study. Study questions: what are the differences in credibility scores between true, partly falsified, and falsified children’s stories in this group of children; how do children understand the instruction to create a partly falsified story? Nine children aged 11 years (n = 9) participated in the study, three children in each study group. The children were interviewed about a real, partially falsified or completely contrived event, as well as taking the WISC-4 sub-test “Vocabulary”. The content of the narrative was assessed using the Criteria Based Content Analysis (CBCA). Results: CBCA averages did not differ between true-story and partly falsified story groups, while there were more children with higher CBCA scores in the true-story group than in the partly falsified story group. The CBCA averages were lower in the contrived story group compared to the first two groups. The children had difficulty spontaneously producing a false story during the interview. An association was found between CBCA scores and children’s level of verbal ability. The trends observed in the study group should be tested in a larger study with a larger number of participants.

Keywords: CBCA, child witness, testimony, credibility, assessment

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2022. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2022. 1135 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-911-1