Ferrier, David E.; Ozbek, Irene Nichols, 1947-
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Attorneys questioning child witnesses often ask complex questions that negatively impact children’s accuracy and consistency. Research has shown that instructing children to answer confusing questions with “I don’t know” can improve their accuracy, but little research has examined the impact of using this strategy on jurors’ perceptions of child witness credibility. The present study assessed 702 mock jurors’ perceptions of a 4- or 10-year-old child witness in a fabricated sexual assault trial transcript. Number of “don’t know” responses were manipulated, and half the jurors were told about the “I don’t know” instruction. Results demonstrated that greater numbers of “I don’t know” answers during questioning negatively impacted mock jurors’ perceptions of children’s honesty and cognitive ability, but making jurors aware of the “I don’t know” instruction mitigated some of these negative effects. Findings from this study can be used to further inform legal and forensic strategies to protect child witnesses.
M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.
Child sexual abuse; Child witnesses; Cross-examination
ix, 107 leaves
Greenlee, Leanza, "Mock jurors' perceptions of "I don't know" answers in child testimony" (2020). Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.