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NCJ Number: 148102 Find in a Library
Title: Juror Reactions to Child Victim Witnesses: Factors Affecting Trial Outcome
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:17  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1993)  Pages:679-694
Author(s): N N Nightingale
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 16
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The effect of corroboration on the outcome of simulated trials involving child victims is examined.
Abstract: Trial variables that might affect juror decisions were examined in two experiments. In Experiment 1, the impact of corroboration, type of case (civil or criminal), and victim age (6, 9, or 12 years) were examined. Participants were 379 undergraduates who read a trial summary describing a wrongful injury or sexual abuse case and were asked to make decisions regarding the case. Results revealed a significant interaction between age and corroboration. Corroboration increased the number of guilty verdicts for the 6- and 12- year olds, yet had little impact in the case with the 9- year-old. Contrary to expectations, the type of the case did not interact with child age in affecting jurors' decisions. Experiment 2 examined the role of a child's age more systematically. The trial summary described the corroborated sexual abuse case, utilized in Experiment 1, and varied the age of the victim from 6 to 14 years. Analyses revealed that the number of guilty verdicts and credibility decreased with age, whereas amount of blame attributed to the victim increased with age. Reasons for the negative age bias are discussed. The author cautions that studies that employ trial narratives may be less generalizable to actual trial contexts, but that they serve the important function of identifying stereotypes that adults may have about children. The present study identified a possible negative bias toward child victims who are approaching adolescence. Further research is needed regarding the types of stereotypes that adults hold about children of different ages and how those stereotypes might affect decisions of jurors in a courtroom, how the nature of a case might impact on jurors' perceptions of a child witness, and the role of the child witness in the courtroom and its differential impact, if any, on case outcome. Tables, references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Courts; Jury decisionmaking; Juvenile witnesses
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