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Children’s truthful and deceptive testimonies: How camera perspective affects adult observers’ perception and assessments

Paper i proceeding
Författare Sara Landström
Pär-Anders Granhag
Publicerad i Paper presented at “The 4rd annual meeting of the Nordic Network for research on Psychology and Law, Reykjavik, Island, 07.10.05.
Publiceringsår 2007
Publicerad vid Psykologiska institutionen
Språk en
Ämnesord Children’s testimony, Deception detection, Camera perspective, Camera shot, Camera focus
Ämneskategorier Psykologi


Introduction Children seldom give their testimony live in court; instead they give their testimonies via CCTV or via video recorded interviews. The use of this technology serves the children’s interest well, but little is known about its psychological effects (e.g., how different camera perspectives affect the observers’ perception and assessments). Aim The study is an experiment investigating adults’ perception and assessments of children’s videotaped truthful and deceptive testimonies as a function of the camera shot (i.e., the distance between the camera and the child) and the camera focus (i.e., focus on child only or on both child and interviewer). Method Fourteen children (8-9 years old) either experienced an event (an interaction with a stranger) or heard about the event through hearsay. After two weeks, all children were interviewed about the event as having experienced it. The interviews were videotaped simultaneously by four cameras, each taking a different visual perspective (close-up shot/child only, medium shot/child only, medium shot/child and interviewer, and long shot/child and interviewer). Mock jurors (N = 256) watched the videotaped testimonies and rated their perception of the children’s statement and appearance, as well as assessed the children’s veracity. Results We found that the camera perspective affected the observers’ perception of the children’s appearance. Specifically, the observers in the ‘Long shot/child and interviewer’ condition rated the children as significantly more natural and relaxed than did the observers in the other conditions. In the same vein, the observers in the ‘Close-up shot/child only’ condition perceived the children as having to think harder than did the observers in the other three conditions. The adult’s deception detection accuracy was at chance level. Conclusions The results suggest that legal policy-makers should consider the outcome of psycho-legal research on camera perspective when establishing and/or reforming standards for police interviews and courtroom procedures.

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