Purpose. The present experiment examined the success rate of well-trained raters in judging the truthfulness of witness statements. Statements from children aged 7-8 years, children aged 10-11 years and adults were rated for the presence of 15 of the 19 original Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) criteria (Steller & Köhnken, 1989). Method. This experiment comprised a 3 (age of participant) × 3 (nature of account) design. One-third of the participants took part in a photography session, one-third watched a video recording of a peer taking part in a photography session, and one-third were party to a verbal description regarding the photography session but neither participated in it themselves nor saw a video recording. The first two groups then gave truthful accounts of their experiences in a subsequent interview. However, the third group was asked, by the experimenter, to lie during the interview and to try to convince the interviewers that they also had taken part in a photography session. Results. The CBCA criteria discriminated between truthful accounts based on actual involvement and fabricated accounts. However, the criteria did not significantly discriminate between those truthful accounts based on watching a video recording and fabricated accounts. Interestingly, there was a significant difference between the truthful accounts based on participation and the truthful accounts based on observation. Further, CBCA was equally effective in discriminating between participative truthful accounts and fabricated accounts for all three age groups. Conclusions. CBCA was found to be a very useful tool in discriminating between truthful accounts based on direct experience of an event and fabricated accounts (overall hit rate, 70%). Also, CBCA was found to discriminate between truthful acounts based on actual experience and truthful accounts based on watching a video. This latter finding has implications for the real world when children and adults use information from television programmes and videos on which to base false allegations. Finally, CBCA was found to be equally effective for use with accounts from adults as well as children.
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Legal and Criminological Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2001|