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The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the utility of two interview instructions designed to overcome children’s reluctance to disclose transgressions: eliciting a promise from children to tell the truth and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect “told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth”). The key questions were whether the instructions increased disclosure in response to recall questions and in response to recognition questions that were less or more explicit about transgressions, and whether instructions were differentially effective with age. Two-hundred and seventeen 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children played with a stranger. This ...


19. Child Witnesses., Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly Mcwilliams, Shanna Williams Nov 2017

19. Child Witnesses., Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly Mcwilliams, Shanna Williams

Thomas D. Lyon

In this chapter we provide an overview of psychological issues involving children’s capacities as witnesses. First, we discuss the kinds of cases in which children are usually involved. Across different courts, one most often sees children describing abuse at the hands of familiar adults. Second, we describe the difficulties children encounter in disclosing abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by adults close to them. These dynamics lead most children to remain silent, and only the most forthcoming children to disclose. Third, we suggest a framework for assessing children’s allegations, in which child-generated and adult-generated information lie on opposite ...


The Relation Between Young Children's False Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

The Relation Between Young Children's False Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5- year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions ...


61. The Relation Between Young Children’S False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth–Lie Understanding., Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

61. The Relation Between Young Children’S False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth–Lie Understanding., Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5-year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions, and ...


60. The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression., Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

60. The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression., Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

This study examined the utility of two interview instructions designed to overcome children’s reluctance to disclose transgressions: eliciting a promise from children to tell the truth and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect “told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth”). The key questions were whether the instructions increased disclosure in response to recall questions and in response to recognition questions that were less or more explicit about transgressions, and whether instructions were differentially effective with age. Two-hundred and seventeen 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children played with a stranger. This ...


Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose. Previous research has demonstrated that attorney question format relates to child witness’ response productivity. However, little work has examined the extent to which attorneys provide temporal structure in their questions, and the effects of this structure on children’s responding. The purpose of this study was to address this gap in the literature to identify methods by which attorneys increase children’s response productivity on the stand without risking objections from opposing counsel for ‘calling for narrative answers’.

Methods. In this study, we coded criminal court transcripts involving child witnesses (5–18 years) for narrative structure in attorney questions ...


When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin Nov 2017

When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

In this chapter, we highlight principles for interviewing children based on the best available science, understanding that such principles keep changing as new evidence accumulates and that gaps exist in the knowledge base where guidance is limited. Interviewers will need to stay abreast of new developments. First, we briefly describe the data base from which the tools derive--studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Then we discuss evidence-based interview tools and features of the interview about which there is sufficient empirical evidence and consensus to derive “toolboxes.” We discuss interview structure, setting, children’s reluctance and suggestibility, rapport ...


Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Children’s descriptions of clothing placement and touching with respect to clothing are central to assessing child sexual abuse allegations. This study examined children’s ability to answer the types of questions attorneys and interviewers typically ask about clothing, using the most common spatial terms (on/off, outside/inside, over/under). Ninety-seven 3- to 6-year-olds were asked yes/no (e.g. “Is the shirt on?”), forced-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off?”), open-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off or something else?”), or where questions (e.g., “Where is the shirt?”) about clothing using a human ...


"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose: The present study examined how children alleging sexual abuse are asked about clothing placement during abusive episodes, both in criminal trials and forensic interviews. The placement of clothing is of great importance, because it facilitates distinguishing abusive touch from non-abusive touch, as well as the severity of abuse when the touching is in fact sexual. If clothing has not been removed, then sexual abuse appears less likely and certain types of sexual contact are physically impossible (or at least highly improbable). Methods: We examined how trial attorneys (n = 142) and forensic interviewers in investigative interviews (n = 155) questioned 5- ...


59. Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversations, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon May 2017

59. Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversations, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

Children’s potential confusion between “ask” and “tell” can lead to misunderstandings when child witnesses are asked to report prior conversations. The verbs distinguish both between interrogating and informing and between requesting and commanding. Children’s understanding was examined using both field (i.e., Study 1) and laboratory (i.e., Studies 2-4) methods. Study 1 examined 100 5- to 12-year-olds’ trial testimony in child sexual abuse cases, and found that potentially ambiguous use of ask and tell was common, typically found in yes/no questions that elicited unelaborated answers, and virtually never clarified by attorneys or child witnesses. Studies 2-4 ...


Challenging The Credibility Of Alleged Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse In Scottish Courts, Zsofia Szojka, Samantha J. Andrews, Michael E. Lamb, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon May 2017

Challenging The Credibility Of Alleged Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse In Scottish Courts, Zsofia Szojka, Samantha J. Andrews, Michael E. Lamb, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the effects of credibility-challenging questions (n = 2,729) on 62 5- to 17-year-olds’ testimony in child sexual abuse cases in Scotland by categorizing the type, source, and content of the credibility-challenging questions defence lawyers asked and assessing how children responded. Credibility-challenging questions comprised 14.9% of all questions asked during cross-examination. Of defence lawyers’ credibility-challenging questions, 77.8% focused generally on children’s honesty, whereas the remainder referred to specific inconsistencies in the children’s testimony. Children resisted credibility challenges 54% of the time, significantly more often than they provided compliant responses (26.8%). The tendency to ...


Pragmatic Failure And Referential Ambiguity When Attorneys Ask Child Witnesses "Do You Know/Remember" Questions, Angela D. Evans, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon May 2017

Pragmatic Failure And Referential Ambiguity When Attorneys Ask Child Witnesses "Do You Know/Remember" Questions, Angela D. Evans, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

“Do you know” and “Do you remember” (DYK/R) questions explicitly ask whether one knows or remembers some information while implicitly asking for that information. This study examined how 104 4- to 9-year-old children testifying in child sexual abuse cases responded to DYK/R wh- and yes/no questions. When asked DYK/R questions containing an implicit wh- question requesting information, children often provided unelaborated “Yes” responses. Attorneys’ follow-up questions suggested that children usually misunderstood the pragmatics of the questions. When DYK/R questions contained an implicit yes/no question, unelaborated “Yes” or “No” responses could be responding to the ...


The Effects Of The Hypothetical Putative Confession And Negatively-Valenced Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Dislcosure Of A Minor Transgression, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Apr 2017

The Effects Of The Hypothetical Putative Confession And Negatively-Valenced Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Dislcosure Of A Minor Transgression, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the effects of the hypothetical putative confession (telling children “What if I said that [the suspect] told me everything that happened and he wants you to tell the truth?”) and negatively-valenced yes/no questions varying in their explicitness (“Did [toy] break?” vs. “Did something bad happen to the [toy]?”) on 206 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and non-maltreated children’s reports, half of whom had experienced toy breakage and had been admonished to keep the breakage a secret. The hypothetical putative confession increased the likelihood that children disclosed breakage without increasing false reports. The yes/no questions elicited ...


The Effects Of Secret Instructions And Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Nonmaltreated Children's Reports Of A Minor Transgression, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Feb 2017

The Effects Of Secret Instructions And Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Nonmaltreated Children's Reports Of A Minor Transgression, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the effects of secret instructions (distinguishing between good/bad secrets and encouraging disclosure of bad secrets) and yes/no questions (DID: “Did the toy break?” versus DYR: “Do you remember if the toy broke?”) on 262 4- to 9- year old maltreated and nonmaltreated children’s reports of a minor transgression. Over two-thirds of children failed to disclose the transgression in response to free recall (invitations and cued invitations). The secret instruction increased disclosures early in free recall, but was not superior to no instruction when combined with cued invitations. Yes/no questions specifically asking about the ...


The Effects Of The Putative Confession And Parent Suggestion On Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Elizabeth B. Rush, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon Jan 2017

The Effects Of The Putative Confession And Parent Suggestion On Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Elizabeth B. Rush, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose: This study examined the effects of the putative confession (telling the child that an adult “told me everything that happened and he wants you to tell the truth”) on children’s disclosure of a minor transgression after questioning by their parents. Methods: Children (N = 188; 4 – 7-year-olds) played with a confederate, and while doing so, for half of the children, toys broke. Parents then questioned their children about what occurred, and half of the parents were given additional scripted suggestive questions. Finally, children completed a mock forensic investigative interview. Results: Children given the putative confession were 1.6 times ...


The Productivity Of Wh- Prompts When Children Testify, Samantha J. Andrews, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Jan 2017

The Productivity Of Wh- Prompts When Children Testify, Samantha J. Andrews, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Wh- prompts (what, how, why, who, when, where) vary widely in their specificity and accuracy, but differences among them have largely been ignored in research examining the productivity of different question-types in child testimony. We examined 120 6- to 12-year-olds’ criminal court testimony in child sexual abuse cases to compare the productivity of various wh- prompts. We distinguished among what/how prompts, most notably: what/how-happen prompts focusing generally on events, what/how-dynamic prompts focusing on actions or unfolding processes/events, what/how-causality prompts focusing on causes and reasons, and what/how-static prompts focusing on non-action contextual information regarding location ...


58. The Effects Of Secret Instructions And Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Reports Of A Minor Transgression., Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Jan 2017

58. The Effects Of Secret Instructions And Yes/No Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Reports Of A Minor Transgression., Elizabeth C. Ahern, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

This study examined the effects of secret instructions (distinguishing between good/bad secrets and encouraging disclosure of bad secrets) and yes/no questions (DID: “Did the toy break?” versus DYR: “Do you remember if the toy broke?”) on 262 4- to 9- year old maltreated and nonmaltreated children’s reports of a minor transgression. Over two-thirds of children failed to disclose the transgression in response to free recall (invitations and cued invitations). The secret instruction increased disclosures early in free recall, but was not superior to no instruction when combined with cued invitations. Yes/no questions specifically asking about the ...


Investigative Interviewing Of The Child, Thomas D. Lyon Jan 2017

Investigative Interviewing Of The Child, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This chapter reviews best practice interviewing for legal practitioners and others who work with children.


18. When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update., Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodman Jan 2017

18. When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update., Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodman

Thomas D. Lyon

In this chapter, we highlight principles for interviewing children based on the best available science, understanding that such principles keep changing as new evidence accumulates and that gaps exist in the knowledge base where guidance is limited. Interviewers will need to stay abreast of new developments. First, we briefly describe the data base from which the tools derive--studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Then we discuss evidence-based interview tools and features of the interview about which there is sufficient empirical evidence and consensus to derive “toolboxes.” We discuss interview structure, setting, children’s reluctance and suggestibility, rapport ...


57. Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children’S Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications., Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Dec 2016

57. Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children’S Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications., Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

Children’s descriptions of clothing placement and touching with respect to clothing are central to assessing child sexual abuse allegations. This study examined children’s ability to answer the types of questions attorneys and interviewers typically ask about clothing, using the most common spatial terms (on/off, outside/inside, over/under). Ninety-seven 3- to 6-year-olds were asked yes/no (e.g. “Is the shirt on?”), forced-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off?”), open-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off or something else?”), or where questions (e.g., “Where is the shirt?”) about clothing using a human ...