Children As Eyewitnesses: Memory recall and face recognition

Sammanfattning: Through centuries, witnesses to crimes have played an important role for the police to get a conviction of the culprit. This dissertation examined how accurate children are as witnesses of events and when participating in lineups. In Study 1, participants were tested with free recall and focussed questions. Children aged 8-9 years, 11-12 years and adults in two experiments witnessed film events with forensic relevance. The results showed that the children in a free recall report can be as accurate as adults and as realistic in their confidence judgments of the correctness of their memories as adults. In Study 2, children, 10-11 years old and adults participated in sequential lineups arranged according to the Swedish Police instructions in experiment 1 and compared with elimination lineup in experiment 2. A staged crime video was used followed by lineups one week later. The results indicated that elimination lineups according to the Swedish National Police Board instructions is advantageous for children but make the task more difficult for adults. Compared to experiment 1 with sequential method the children had increased correct identifications in target-present lineup and decreased false identifications in target-absent lineup. Study 3 investigated if self-perception and self-doubt correlates with accuracy and confidence. The result indicated was that at least in target-absent lineup one must be careful to relay on a child witness with strong self-confidence. The results of this dissertation indicate, that given the appropriate types of questions and forms of questioning children can be fairly trustworthy witnesses, sometimes at the level of adults. Participating in a lineup the children performed at a level comparable to adults when the target was in the lineup. With target-absent lineup, children made more false identifications than adults. Target-absent lineups, with children, also had negative correlations to accuracy.

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