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Opinions of legal professionals: Comparing child and adult witnesses’ memory report capabilities.

Journal article
Authors Jens Knutsson
Carl Martin Allwood
Published in The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context
Volume 6
Issue 2
Pages 79-89
ISSN 1889-1861
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 79-89
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpal.2014.06....
Keywords Eyewitnesses, Legal professionals, Opinions, Children, Adults, Event memory, Metamemory
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

The opinions of legal professionals about child and adult witnesses might influence the likelihood that a case is allowed to proceed through the different stages of the legal process. With the aim of knowing the opinions of legal practitioners about child and adult witnesses, 84 legal professionals (Swedish police, prosecutors, and attorneys) were surveyed about their beliefs about child and adult eyewitness memory (and metamemory) abilities. The respondents answered 27 questions relating to nine forensically relevant belief areas in which they compared the memory ability of children (ages 7 to 11 years) and adults. The results showed no differences in assessment among members of different professions and a general trend suggesting that, across the professions, children were believed to be poorer witnesses than adults regarding their memory abilities. Moreover, the professionals’ within-group consensus was very low. These results are discussed in the context of eyewitness research findings and with respect to the implications for both legal and research practice.

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