Presentation Title

Children's Ability to Act as Alibi Witnesses for Adults

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Alibi research is a relatively new topic in forensic psychology, and there is a dearth of research on child alibi witnesses. An alibi is a report of one’s own whereabouts and activities during a given timeframe, and an alibi witness is someone who can confirm this information. The lack of mature cognitive abilities such as attention and memory may hinder children in providing alibi witness statements. This study investigated children’s ability to act as alibi witnesses, as no prior research has addressed this topic. Eighty-three children (M age = 7.1 years) participated in a 2 (Researcher presence: Leave, No Leave) x 2 (Delay: No Delay, 1-Day Delay) between subjects study design. Two research assistants, one male and one female, led a series of science games for approximately 45 minutes, and this occurred either directly before or one day before participants were interviewed. Because this research is exploratory in nature, specific hypotheses were not developed. Though only the female research assistant ever left the room (in the Leave condition), children’s reports of whether or not a research assistant left did not differ between the male (77% of children said the male did not leave) and female (63% of children said the female did not leave) research assistants, z = 1.40, p = .16. Further, the difference in reports of leaving in the Leave (19%) versus No Leave (8%) conditions did not differ statistically significantly, z = 1.70, p = .08. These findings indicate that children may be poor alibi witnesses.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Heather Price

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Children's Ability to Act as Alibi Witnesses for Adults

Alibi research is a relatively new topic in forensic psychology, and there is a dearth of research on child alibi witnesses. An alibi is a report of one’s own whereabouts and activities during a given timeframe, and an alibi witness is someone who can confirm this information. The lack of mature cognitive abilities such as attention and memory may hinder children in providing alibi witness statements. This study investigated children’s ability to act as alibi witnesses, as no prior research has addressed this topic. Eighty-three children (M age = 7.1 years) participated in a 2 (Researcher presence: Leave, No Leave) x 2 (Delay: No Delay, 1-Day Delay) between subjects study design. Two research assistants, one male and one female, led a series of science games for approximately 45 minutes, and this occurred either directly before or one day before participants were interviewed. Because this research is exploratory in nature, specific hypotheses were not developed. Though only the female research assistant ever left the room (in the Leave condition), children’s reports of whether or not a research assistant left did not differ between the male (77% of children said the male did not leave) and female (63% of children said the female did not leave) research assistants, z = 1.40, p = .16. Further, the difference in reports of leaving in the Leave (19%) versus No Leave (8%) conditions did not differ statistically significantly, z = 1.70, p = .08. These findings indicate that children may be poor alibi witnesses.