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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 141617 Find in a Library
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:17  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1993)  Pages:103-119
Author(s): N J Gabora; N P Spanos; A Joab
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using mock jurors and a videotape of a simulated child sexual abuse trial, this study examined the effects of complainant age and expert psychological testimony on juror decisionmaking.
Abstract: The complainant was described as either 13 or 17 years old. The study also examined the impact of juror gender on verdicts and perceptions of the key witnesses. It was also of interest to investigate the extent of jurors' misconceptions about child sexual abuse, to determine how these beliefs influenced the evaluation of the trial evidence, and to examine whether prior beliefs were changed by the testimony of an expert psychological witness. To determine whether the type of expert testimony presented differentially affected jurors' judgments, two types of expert testimony were provided. In one case, the expert provided research-based information on child sexual abuse cases. In the other, the expert linked the research findings to the particular case under consideration and concluded that the child was sexually abused. Jurors voted to convict more often when the younger complainant was seen, and the younger complainant was rated as more credible than the older complainant. Female jurors voted the defendant guilty more often and rated the defendant as less credible when expert psychological testimony was specific to the case than when they were presented with either general expert testimony or no expert testimony. Jurors who saw a psychological expert testify became less accepting of child sexual abuse misconceptions than those in the no-expert control condition. Implications of the findings are discussed. 5 tables and 30 references
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Expert witnesses; Jury decisionmaking; Witness credibility
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