Expressed Emotions and Perceived Credibility of Child Mock Victims Disclosing
The influence of emotions displayed by child witnesses during disclosure of abuse on judgments of credibility and guilt were examined. Eight mock police interviews with child actors, telling a story of physical abuse with different emotional expressions, were video-recorded. In a between-group design, jury eligible lay persons (n = 162) and professional child protective service (CPS) workers (n = 154) rated the credibility of the child witnesses and the probability that the alleged perpetrator was guilty of crime. The emotions displayed by the child witnesses strongly affected judgments of credibility and guilt. The patterns of ratings were closely similar in the two participant samples, but the overall ratings of the CPS workers were higher than those of the lay participants. Judgments of the probability of guilt followed a similar pattern with a correlation of .68 between the two variables. The theoretical and practical implications of the results are briefly discussed.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/acp.2935