Publications by authors named "Jodi A Quas"

81 Publications

Emotional awareness, empathy, and generosity in high-risk youths.

J Exp Child Psychol 2021 Aug 20;208:105151. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.

Although maltreatment places youths at risk for substantial deficits in prosociality, effective methods of improving these deficits have yet to be identified. The current investigation tested whether prosociality could be enhanced in maltreated youths by increasing their awareness of others' sadness. Maltreated youths (n = 145) and matched community youths (n = 106) aged 6-17 years completed a sharing task within which labels about a peer's emotions (sad vs. neutral) were experimentally manipulated. Youths who received the sad emotion label about a peer's feelings showed greater empathic concern, and in turn generosity, toward that peer than youths who received the neutral label. Findings offer new insight into potential methods of improving prosocial responding in youths and thus provide direction for intervention efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105151DOI Listing
August 2021

What's Fair in Child Welfare? Parent Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences.

Child Maltreat 2020 Nov 28:1077559520975499. Epub 2020 Nov 28.

Department of Psychological Science, 8788University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

Parents play a critical role in the progression and outcomes of juvenile dependency (child welfare court) cases. Yet, very little is known about these parents' knowledge, attitudes, and experiences. We examined legal understanding and attitudes among 201 parents involved in ongoing dependency cases in California and Florida via semi-structured, in-person interviews. We expected parents' understanding to be low and attitudes to be negative, particularly among parents of color and low SES parents. We expected greater dependency understanding to be related to more positive justice attitudes, and procedural and distributive justice attitudes to be indistinguishable in this population. Findings partially confirmed expectations. Parents' understanding of the system was low, especially among parents of color and less educated parents. Parents felt less than satisfied about the fairness of procedures and decisions. However, procedural and distributive justice attitudes were distinguishable. Finally, and unexpectedly, parents' knowledge and attitudes were negatively related. The consistently low levels of knowledge across CA and FL suggest the critical need to increase parental knowledge. It is also important to promote fair court procedures and decision-making to improve parents' attitudes about procedural and distributive justice, which were found to be distinct and important factors among parents navigating juvenile dependency cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559520975499DOI Listing
November 2020

Detecting children's true and false denials of wrongdoing: Effects of question type and base rate knowledge.

Behav Sci Law 2020 Dec 25;38(6):612-629. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

One common and unfortunately overlooked obstacle to the detection of sexual abuse is non-disclosure by children. Non-disclosure in forensic interviews may be expressed via concealment in response to recall questions or via active denials in response to recognition (e.g., yes/no) questions. In two studies, we evaluated whether adults' ability to discern true and false denials of wrongdoing by children varied as a function of the types of interview question the children were asked. Results suggest that adults are not good at detecting deceptive denials of wrongdoing by children, even when the adults view children narrate their experiences in response to recall questions rather than provide one word answers to recognition questions. In Study 1, adults exhibited a consistent "truth bias," leading them toward believing children, regardless of whether the children's denials were true or false. In Study 2, adults were given base-rate information about the occurrence of true and false denials (50% of each). The information eliminated the adults' truth bias but did not improve their overall detection accuracy, which still hovered near chance. Adults did, however, perceive children's denials as slightly more credible when they emerged in response to recall rather than recognition questions, especially when children were honestly denying wrongdoing. Results suggest the need for caution when evaluating adults' judgments of children's veracity when the children fail to disclose abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7913390PMC
December 2020

Primary and Secondary Variants of Psychopathic Traits in at-Risk Youth: Links with Maltreatment, Aggression, and Empathy.

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 2020 Oct 24. Epub 2020 Oct 24.

Department of Psychological Science, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

The current study examined whether two variants of psychopathic traits (PT) were identifiable in high-risk youth who had not yet been identified as antisocial, some of whom had documented histories of maltreatment (N = 167, M = 14.84), and then whether the variants differed in levels of aggression and empathy. High-PT youth with low anxiety and trauma (i.e., primary variant PT) and high anxiety and trauma (i.e., secondary variant PT) were differentiated. The secondary variant group was comprised largely of youth with documented histories of maltreatment. This group of youth also reported higher levels of proactive and reactive aggression than did the primary variant youth and low-PT youth. All youth reported similar levels of affective empathy and only small differences in cognitive empathy emerged: Primary variant youth reported lower cognitive empathy than low-PT youth. Findings support generalization of two variant groups of youth with psychopathic traits to diverse, high-risk samples not already identified as antisocial and have important implications for policy and practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10578-020-01083-5DOI Listing
October 2020

Do laypersons conflate poverty and neglect?

Law Hum Behav 2020 08 16;44(4):311-326. Epub 2020 Jul 16.

Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine.

Objective: Child neglect is often initially identified via adults who come into contact with children and report their suspicions to the authorities. Little is known about what behaviors laypersons view as constituting neglect and hence worth reporting. We examined laypersons' perceptions of neglect and poverty, particularly how these factors independently and jointly shaped laypersons' decisions about what warrants official reporting of neglect, and how laypersons' socioeconomic background related to their decisions.

Hypotheses: We anticipated that neglect would be correctly perceived as such, but that extreme poverty would also be perceived as neglect, with these latter perceptions being most pronounced among laypersons of higher socioeconomic background.

Method: In 2 studies, adults read vignettes about a mother's care of her daughter and rendered decisions about whether the mother's behavior met the legal standard of neglect and should be reported. In Study 1 (N = 365, 55% female, mean age = 37.12 years), indicators of poverty and neglect were manipulated. In Study 2 (N = 474, 53% female, mean age = 38.25 years), only poverty (housing instability: homelessness vs. not) was manipulated.

Results: Laypersons often conflated poverty and neglect, especially in circumstances of homelessness. Laypersons of lower socioeconomic background were less likely to perceive neglect in general and to report an obligation to make a referral (R2s ranged from 17-26%, odds ratios ranged from 2.24-3.08).

Conclusions: Laypersons may overreport neglect in circumstances of poverty. Increasing public awareness of how to recognize and separate neglect from poverty may enhance identification of vulnerable children and families. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000415DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7905956PMC
August 2020

Overcoming Disclosure Reluctance in Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking: New Directions for Research, Policy, and Practice.

Psychol Public Policy Law 2019 Nov 25;25(4):225-238. Epub 2019 Jul 25.

Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine.

An alarming number of youth worldwide are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, particularly sex trafficking. Normative developmental processes and motivations across the adolescent period-the age when youth are at greatest risk for trafficking-combined with their history, make them highly likely to be reluctant to disclose their exploitation to police, who often encounter victims because they are suspected of delinquency and crime and who interrogate the victims as suspects. Little scientific and policy attention has been devoted to understanding how to question these victims in a way that reduces their disclosure reluctance and increases their provision of legally relevant information. In the current review, we describe research concerning trafficking victims' histories and exploitative experiences, juvenile suspects' and victims' encounters with the legal system, and best-practice forensic interviewing approaches to elicit disclosures from child victims. We highlight the implications of these areas for understanding the dynamics between how police encounter and interact with adolescent trafficking victims and whether and how the victims disclose trafficking details during these interactions. We close with an agenda for research to test interviewing methods for suspected victims of sex trafficking and with policy and practice recommendations for interviewers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/law0000205DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7043240PMC
November 2019

Implicit Encouragement: Enhancing Youth Productivity when Recounting a Stressful Experience.

Int J Child Maltreat 2019 Dec 22;2(4):239-254. Epub 2019 Nov 22.

Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, 4201 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697-7085, USA.

In recent years, increasing efforts have been focused on testing strategies of improving victimized children's narrative productivity, given that, for many youth, finding out what has happened to them is crucial to intervening and promoting their well-being. Implicit encouragement strategies, such as back channeling by conversational partners, have shown some preliminary promise, but their precise effects on productivity and accuracy have not been adequately examined. In this study, 98 youth, ages 8-14, completed a laboratory-based stressful activity, and a week later, a surprise memory test regarding what happened in the lab activity. Interviewers varied their use of implicit encouragement. Open-ended recall questions asked youth about both factual details and detail about their feelings and thoughts during the laboratory activity. Implicit encouragement increased the amount of both types of details and had no effect on errors. In fact, few youth provided any incorrect information in their recall reports. Neither age nor stress was related to youth's productivity or accuracy, directly or in conjunction with implicit encouragement. Results highlight the value of interviewers using encouraging behaviors when questioning children and adolescents to elicit a range of information about prior stressful experiences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s42448-019-00031-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7039258PMC
December 2019

Early Environmental Unpredictability: Implications for Youth's Perceptions and Social Functioning.

J Youth Adolesc 2019 Sep 22;48(9):1754-1764. Epub 2019 Jun 22.

Department of Psychological Science, 4201 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.

According to an evolutionary perspective, early environmental unpredictability induces expectations in youth that their future is uncertain and increases their likelihood of engaging in opportunistic, impulsive, and aggressive behaviors. Although considerable evidence supports the links between environmental unpredictability and such behaviors, less is known about how youth growing up in volatile environments actually perceive their lives and how these perceptions relate to their behavior. In this study, two samples of 10-17 year-olds, one with a history of maltreatment and removal from home (n = 90; 52% female; 67% Hispanic-American) and one without (n = 80; 54% female; 69% Hispanic-American), reported on their perceptions of unpredictability and social functioning. Maltreated youth endorsed greater perceptions of unpredictability than non-maltreated youth. For both groups, greater perceptions of unpredictability were associated with increased aggression and conduct problems and decreased prosociality. Findings advance understanding of a developmental pathway contributing to opportunistic and risky social behavior in youth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01052-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6732221PMC
September 2019

The Role of Kinship and Siblings in Young Children's Placement Preferences.

J Interpers Violence 2019 Jun 16:886260519854560. Epub 2019 Jun 16.

1 University of California, Irvine, USA.

Although considerable attention has been directed toward the most appropriate placement for children following removal from home due to maltreatment, very little of this attention has focused on children's stated preferences, particularly when children are young. Specifically, children below 12 years of age are often presumed incompetent to form reasoned judgments about their best interests in placement. This assumption, however, has rarely been tested directly. We surveyed 100 4- to 11-year-olds removed from home because of maltreatment about their placement preferences. Children were less likely to indicate they wanted to return home if they were placed with siblings or with kin, consistent with statutory placement preferences. These results suggest that young children may express more mature preferences than recognized by the law, and that there may be value in asking even relatively young children about with whom they would like to live following their removal from home as a result of maltreatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260519854560DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7001856PMC
June 2019

Stress physiology and memory for emotional information: Moderation by individual differences in pubertal hormones.

Dev Psychol 2018 Sep;54(9):1606-1620

Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine.

In contrast to a large body of work concerning the effects of physiological stress reactivity on children's socioemotional functioning, far less attention has been devoted to understanding the effects of such reactivity on cognitive, including mnemonic, functioning. How well children learn and remember information under stress has implications for a range of educational, clinical, and legal outcomes. We evaluated 8-14 year olds' (N = 94, 50 female) memory for negative, neutral, and positive images. Youth had seen the images a week previously as a part of a laboratory stress task. At encoding and retrieval, and in between, youth provided saliva samples that were later assayed for cortisol, salivary α amylase (sAA), testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Overall, higher cortisol reactivity to the lab task predicted enhanced memory for emotional but not neutral images. However, cortisol further interacted with pubertal hormones (testosterone and DHEA) to predict memory. Among girls with lower pubertal hormone levels, greater cortisol reactivity was associated with enhanced memory for negative information, whereas among boys with higher pubertal hormone levels, cortisol reactivity was associated with enhanced memory for positive information. sAA, was unrelated to memory. Overall, our findings reveal that individual differences in hormone levels associated with pubertal development have implications for our understanding of how stress-responsive biological systems directly and interactively influence cognitive outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000532DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112183PMC
September 2018

Unpacking the Associations Among Maltreatment, Disengagement Coping, and Behavioral Functioning in High-Risk Youth.

Child Maltreat 2018 11 4;23(4):355-364. Epub 2018 Jun 4.

3 Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

Given the association between child maltreatment and a host of negative behavioral consequences, there remains a need to continue to identify mechanisms underlying this association as a means of improving intervention efforts. The present study examined one potential mechanism, namely, disengagement coping. We asked 6- to 17-year-old maltreated ( n = 249) and comparison ( n = 133) youth questions about emotional experiences that induced sadness and anger, strategies they used to cope with those emotions, and behavioral functioning (i.e., behavioral problems and aggression). Maltreated adolescents reported higher levels of behavioral problems and aggression relative to comparison adolescents, and adolescents who disengaged from emotional situations reported more behavioral problems relative to those who did not disengage. Tests of mediation suggested that, for adolescent-age youth, part of the association between maltreatment status and behavioral problems was explained by disengagement. In children, maltreatment was not associated with disengagement or behavioral problems. Results have implications for understanding age-related differences in the emotional and behavioral consequences of maltreatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559518778805DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7986292PMC
November 2018

The effects of implicit encouragement and the putative confession on children's memory reports.

Child Abuse Negl 2018 06 5;80:113-122. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

University of Southern California, 699 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90089, United States. Electronic address:

The current study tested the effects of two interview techniques on children's report productivity and accuracy following exposure to suggestion: implicit encouragement (backchanneling, use of children's names) and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect "told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth"). One hundred and forty-three, 3-8-year-old children participated in a classroom event. One week later, they took part in a highly suggestive conversation about the event and then a mock forensic interview in which the two techniques were experimentally manipulated. Greater use of implicit encouragement led to increases, with age, in children's narrative productivity. Neither technique improved or reduced children's accuracy. No increases in errors about previously suggested information were evident when children received either technique. Implications for the use of these techniques in child forensic interviews are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.03.024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5953828PMC
June 2018

Are emotions controllable? Maltreated and non-maltreated youth's implicit beliefs about emotion and aggressive tendencies.

Child Abuse Negl 2018 03;77:222-231

University of California, Irvine, Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, 4201 SBSG, Irvine, CA 92697, United States. Electronic address:

Although child maltreatment places youth at substantial risk for difficulties with emotion regulation and aggression, not all maltreated youth show these adverse effects, raising important questions about characteristics that discriminate those who do versus do not evidence long-term negative outcomes. The present investigation examined whether implicit beliefs about emotion moderated the association between maltreatment and aggression. Maltreated (n = 59) and community-matched (n = 66) youth were asked regarding their beliefs about emotion and aggressive behaviors. Beliefs about emotion were more strongly associated with aggression among maltreated youth, particularly physically abused youth. Maltreated youth who believed they had poor ability to control emotion reported significantly higher levels of aggression than comparison youth. However, maltreated youth who believed they had high ability to control emotion did not differ significantly in aggression from that of comparison youth. Findings offer unique insight into a factor that may increase or buffer maltreated youth's risk for aggression and thus highlight potential directions for interventions to reduce aggressive tendencies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.01.010DOI Listing
March 2018

Parental Attachment and Children's Memory for Attachment-Relevant Stories.

Appl Dev Sci 2017 6;21(1):14-29. Epub 2016 Feb 6.

Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine.

Despite evidence that parents' attachment is associated with children's memory, less is known about the mechanisms underlying this association or the contexts in which the association is most meaningful. The present study examined whether parents' attachment predicted children's memory for stories about attachment-related topics, whether the cohesiveness of children's stories mediated the association between attachment and memory, and whether the association varied by interview support at retrieval. Five- to 6-year-olds completed attachment-relevant stories while parents provided information about their romantic attachment. Children's stories were coded for cohesiveness. A week later, children's memory for their stories was tested by either a supportive or non-supportive interviewer. When the interview was non-supportive, greater parental avoidance was associated with poorer memory, whereas when the interview was supportive, greater parental avoidance was associated with fewer errors. Findings provide insight into the context under which parents' attachment is most influential in shaping children's memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2016.1140577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5754038PMC
February 2016

Quality of Sibling Relationships in Maltreated Youth Residing in Out-of-Home-Care.

J Interpers Violence 2021 Jan 12;36(1-2):793-819. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

When children are removed from their parents's custody because of substantiated maltreatment and placed in out-of-home placements, they may be placed separately from siblings, potentially leading to even higher levels of stress in children. This possibility emerges insofar as siblings serve as a source of support during the uncertain times that accompany maltreatment and subsequent removal. We explored these issues in the present study, focusing on whether sibling relationship quality was related to post-removal behavioral functioning in maltreated children and adolescents. A total of 102 six- to seventeen-year-olds residing in a residential facility completed questionnaires about their sibling relationship quality and behavioral functioning. With age, sibling relationships became more hostile; although in girls, sibling affection also increased with age, at least when their sibling was a girl. Sibling hostility was related to increases in aggression and behavioral problems. Surprisingly, greater sibling affection was associated with increased problems, particularly when children had little contact with their sibling. Results provide insight into perceptions of sibling relationships in maltreated children and have implications for placement decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260517730562DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7197295PMC
January 2021

The role of maltreatment in the development of coping strategies.

J Appl Dev Psychol 2018 Jan-Feb;54:23-32. Epub 2017 Nov 14.

Psychology and Social Behavior, 4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, United States.

Child maltreatment leads to deleterious effects in virtually every developmental domain, including cognitive, psychological, and behavioral functioning. Although difficulties with coping have been identified as contributing to these effects, less attention has been paid to the precise nature of maltreated children's coping difficulties, particularly in terms of the strategies they use to cope with negative emotions and how these strategies vary with age. We asked maltreated ( = 195) and comparison ( = 103) 10 to 17 year olds to describe emotional experiences and what strategies they used to cope with those emotions. Maltreated adolescents reported using more disengagement and antisocial strategies than did comparison adolescents. Differences between maltreated and comparison adolescents were consistent across age. Results have important implications for treatment and intervention efforts designed to improve coping strategies among vulnerable maltreated populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2017.10.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7266099PMC
November 2017

Using implicit encouragement to increase narrative productivity in children: Preliminary evidence and legal implications.

J Child Custody 2018 21;15(4):286-301. Epub 2019 Feb 21.

Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, USA.

Statements made by children in a range of legal settings can irrevocably impact their family structure, relationships, and living environment. Because these statements can fundamentally alter children's futures, efforts have been made to identify methods to enhance children's reports by increasing comprehensiveness, completeness, and accuracy. Interviewer support has broadly been considered a method of interest, but variations in what constitutes "support" have highlighted the need for greater specificity in documenting how different facets of supportive behaviors relate to children's reporting tendencies. In this review, we describe work focused on the effects of interviewer support, on children's memory completeness and accuracy. We then describe to a subset of interviewer behaviors that encourage elaboration in dyadic interactions: back-channeling and vocatives. We present preliminary evidence suggesting that these utterances, referred to as implicit encouragement, can increase the amount of detail provided without compromising accuracy. Implications for custody evaluations are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15379418.2018.1509758DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7006990PMC
February 2019

Psychological counseling and accuracy of memory for child sexual abuse.

Am Psychol 2017 Dec;72(9):920-931

Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.

Tens of thousands of child sexual abuse (CSA) cases are reported to authorities annually. Although some of the child victims obtain psychological counseling or therapy, controversy exists about the potential consequences for the accuracy of victims' memory of CSA, both in childhood and adulthood. Yet, delaying needed therapeutic intervention may have detrimental effects on the victims' well-being and recovery. To address this controversy, this study examined whether psychological counseling during a CSA prosecution predicts accuracy or inaccuracy of long-term memory for CSA. Participants (N = 71) were CSA victims who took part in a longitudinal study of memory and legal involvement. Data regarding participants' counseling attendance during the prosecution and details of their CSA cases were gathered throughout legal involvement and shortly thereafter (Time 1). Ten to 16 years later (Time 2), participants were questioned about a range of topics, including the alleged abuse. Time 1 counseling attendance significantly predicted more correct answers to abuse-related questions and (for corroborated cases) fewer overreporting responses at Time 2. Counseling was unrelated to underreporting responses. These results held even with other potential influences, such as abuse severity, victim-defendant relationship, posttraumatic stress disorder criteria met, testifying in the case, and delay, were statistically controlled. Although further research is needed, this study provides evidence that psychological counseling received by CSA victims during or shortly after prosecutions may improve later memory for abuse-related information. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000282DOI Listing
December 2017

Emotion Language in Trauma Narratives is Associated with Better Psychological Adjustment among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

J Lang Soc Psychol 2017 Dec 28;36(6):628-653. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 USA.

Traumatized individuals are often encouraged to confront their experiences by talking or writing about them. However, survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) might find it especially difficult to process abuse experiences, particularly when the abuse is more severe, which could put them at greater risk for mental health problems. The current study examined whether CSA survivors who use emotion language when describing their abuse experiences exhibit better mental health. We analyzed the trauma narratives of 55 adults who, as children, were part of a larger study of the long-term emotional effects of criminal prosecutions on CSA survivors. Abuse narratives were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program. We examined whether positive and negative emotion language in participants' abuse narratives were associated with self- and caregiver-reported mental health symptoms and whether these associations differed according to the severity of the abuse. As hypothesized, participants who used more positive and negative emotion language had better psychological outcomes, especially when the abuse was severe. Our findings suggest that survivors of more severe abuse might benefit from including emotion language, whether positive or negative in valence, when describing the abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261927X17706940DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5701514PMC
December 2017

Attachment, household chaos, and children's health.

Fam Syst Health 2018 Sep 27;36(3):303-314. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine.

Introduction: Despite growing interest in the links between sociocontextual factors and children's behavioral functioning, few studies have investigated how such factors, in combination, relate to health outcomes or vary across mental and physical well-being. We evaluated the direct and interactive associations of parental attachment and household chaos with preschool-age children's mental and physical health.

Method: Ninety-four parents completed questionnaires about their attachment styles, disorganization and confusion in the home, and their children's health functioning.

Results: Attachment avoidance and anxiety in parents predicted poorer mental health in children, particularly in highly chaotic homes. Moreover, parental attachment anxiety, but not avoidance, predicted poorer reported physical health in children and, in conjunction with chaotic homes, more hospitalizations.

Discussion: The results help illuminate how multiple domains in children's immediate environment jointly influence their physical and mental health and how these influences may vary across domains of functioning. Findings have implications for targeting interventions to have impact across facets of children's health. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fsh0000303DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971125PMC
September 2018

Relations between Attorney Temporal Structure and Children's Response Productivity in Cases of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse.

Legal Criminol Psychol 2017 Sep 5;22(2):228-241. Epub 2016 Jul 5.

University of Southern California.

Purpose: Previous research has demonstrated that attorney question format relates to child witness' response productivity. However, little work has examined the relations between the extent to which attorneys provide temporal structure in their questions, and the effects of this structure on children's responding. The purpose of the present study was to address this gap in the literature in order 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 the present study we coded criminal court transcripts involving child witnesses (5-18 years) for narrative structure in attorney questions and productivity in children's responses. Half of the transcripts resulted in convictions, half in acquittals, balanced across key variables: child age, allegation severity, the child's relationship to the perpetrator, and the number of allegations.

Results: Prosecutors and defense attorneys varied substantially in their questioning tactics. Prosecutors used more temporal structure in their questions and varied their questioning by the age of the child. These variations had implications for children's response productivity.

Conclusions: Results indicate that temporal structure is a novel and viable method for enhancing children's production of case-relevant details on the witness stand.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lcrp.12096DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650203PMC
September 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.

J Exp Child Psychol 2018 Feb 23;166:266-279. Epub 2017 Sep 23.

Gould School of Law and Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.

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. A total sample of 217 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children and a stranger played with a set of toys. For half of the children within each group, two of the toys appeared to break while they were playing. The stranger admonished secrecy. Shortly thereafter, children were questioned about what happened in one of three interview conditions. Some children were asked to promise to tell the truth. Others were given the putative confession, and still others received no interview instructions. When coupled with recall questions, the promise was effective at increasing disclosures only among older children, whereas the putative confession was effective regardless of age. Across interview instruction conditions, recognition questions that did not suggest wrongdoing elicited few additional transgression disclosures, whereas recognition questions that explicitly mentioned wrongdoing elicited some true reports but also some false alarms. No differences in disclosure emerged between maltreated and non-maltreated children. Results highlight the potential benefits and limitations of different interviewing approaches when questioning reluctant children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2017.08.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5696103PMC
February 2018

Adversity, emotion recognition, and empathic concern in high-risk youth.

PLoS One 2017 24;12(7):e0181606. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

Bluefish Dental, Bend Oregon, United States of America.

Little is known about how emotion recognition and empathy jointly operate in youth growing up in contexts defined by persistent adversity. We investigated whether adversity exposure in two groups of youth was associated with reduced empathy and whether deficits in emotion recognition mediated this association. Foster, rural poor, and comparison youth from Swaziland, Africa identified emotional expressions and rated their empathic concern for characters depicted in images showing positive, ambiguous, and negative scenes. Rural and foster youth perceived greater anger and happiness in the main characters in ambiguous and negative images than did comparison youth. Rural children also perceived less sadness. Youth's perceptions of sadness in the negative and ambiguous expressions mediated the relation between adversity and empathic concern, but only for the rural youth, who perceived less sadness, which then predicted less empathy. Findings provide new insight into processes that underlie empathic tendencies in adversity-exposed youth and highlight potential directions for interventions to increase empathy.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181606PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5524326PMC
September 2017

When Is Neglect, Neglect?: It Depends on Who You Ask.

Child Maltreat 2017 08 26;22(3):256-264. Epub 2017 May 26.

1 Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

In order to identify victims of child neglect, social service workers rely heavily on referrals from concerned friends, neighbors, and others in the community. Little is known, however, about how lay individuals perceive child neglect and what factors influence their decision to make a referral. This study explored the effects of child, parent, and participant gender on laypersons' evaluations of child neglect. Participants read a case of neglect of a child by a custodial and absent parent and then rated the parents' culpability and intentionality and decided whether the parents' behavior met the legal definition of neglect. When evaluating the custodial parent, men but not women viewed fathers as more culpable than mothers for the neglect of their son and viewed mothers as somewhat more culpable for the neglect of their daughter. Men also perceived absent mothers as more intentionally harmful than absent fathers. Finally, both men and women were more likely to qualify parental behavior as legally neglectful when the genders of the custodial parent and child matched. Results, which suggest that gender bias may exist in laypersons' perceptions of child neglect and may influence their decisions to report, have implications for identification of and intervention for vulnerable children and families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559517709558DOI Listing
August 2017

The Effects of the Putative Confession and Parent Suggestion on Children's Disclosure of a Minor Transgression.

Legal Criminol Psychol 2017 Feb 10;22(1):60-73. Epub 2015 Oct 10.

University of Southern California.

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 ( = 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 more likely in free recall to disclose truthfully that toys had broken. Among children who failed to disclose during free recall, those who received the putative confession were 1.9 times more likely when asked yes/no questions to disclose true breakage. The putative confession did not decrease accuracy, and children who received the putative confession were 2.6 times less likely to report false toy play. Parent suggestion did not adversely affect the efficacy of the putative confession.

Conclusions: The current study demonstrates that children are often quite reticent to disclose transgressions, and that the putative confession is a promising avenue for increasing children's comfort with disclosing and minimizing their tendency to report false details, even in the face of suggestive questioning by parents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lcrp.12086DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5342253PMC
February 2017

Detecting deception in children: A meta-analysis.

Law Hum Behav 2017 02 29;41(1):44-54. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine.

Although research reveals that children as young as 3 can use deception and will take steps to obscure truth, research concerning how well others detect children's deceptive efforts remains unclear. Yet adults regularly assess whether children are telling the truth in a variety of contexts, including at school, in the home, and in legal settings, particularly in investigations of maltreatment. We conducted a meta-analysis to synthesize extant research concerning adults' ability to detect deceptive statements produced by children. We included 45 experiments involving 7,893 adult judges and 1,858 children. Overall, adults could accurately discriminate truths/lies at an average rate of 54%, which is slightly but significantly above chance levels. The average rate at which true statements were correctly classified as honest was higher (63.8%), whereas the rate at which lies were classified as dishonest was not different from chance (47.5%). A small positive correlation emerged between judgment confidence and judgment accuracy. Professionals (e.g., social workers, police officers, teachers) slightly outperformed laypersons (e.g., college undergraduates). Finally, exploratory analyses revealed that the child's age did not significantly affect the rate at which adults could discriminate truths/lies from chance. Future research aimed toward improving lie detection accuracy might focus more on individual differences in children's lie-telling abilities in order to uncover any reliable indicators of deception. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000211DOI Listing
February 2017

Delay in disclosure of non-parental child sexual abuse in the context of emotional and physical maltreatment: A pilot study.

Child Abuse Negl 2016 Aug 2;58:149-59. Epub 2016 Jul 2.

University of Michigan, United States.

The present pilot study sought to identify predictors of delays in child sexual abuse (CSA) disclosure, specifically whether emotional and physical abuse by a parental figure contributes to predicting delays over and above other important victim factors. Alleged CSA victims (N=79), whose parental figures were not the purported sexual abuse perpetrators, were interviewed and their case files reviewed, across two waves of a longitudinal study. Regression analyses indicated that experiencing both emotional and physical abuse by a parental figure was uniquely predictive of longer delays in disclosure of CSA perpetrated by someone other than a parental figure. Victim-CSA perpetrator relationship type and sexual abuse duration also significantly predicted CSA disclosure delay, whereas victim age at the time of the police report, victim gender, and victims' feelings of complicity were not significant unique predictors. Child abuse victims' expectations of lack of parental support may underlie these findings. Parent-child relationships are likely crucial to timely disclosure of CSA, even when a parent is not the CSA perpetrator.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.06.020DOI Listing
August 2016

Familial Influences on Recantation in Substantiated Child Sexual Abuse Cases.

Child Maltreat 2016 08 27;21(3):256-61. Epub 2016 May 27.

University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

The underlying reasons for recantation in children's disclosure of child sexual abuse (CSA) have been debated in recent years. In the present study, we examined the largest sample of substantiated CSA cases involving recantations to date (n = 58 cases). We specifically matched those cases to 58 nonrecanters on key variables found to predict recantation in prior research (i.e., child age, alleged parent figure perpetrator, and caregiver unsupportiveness). Bivariate analyses revealed that children were less likely to recant when they were (1) initially removed from home postdisclosure and (2) initially separated from siblings postdisclosure. Multivariate analyses revealed that children were less likely to recant when family members (other than the nonoffending caregiver) expressed belief in the children's allegations and more likely to recant when family members (other than the nonoffending caregiver) expressed disbelief in the allegations and when visitations with the alleged perpetrator were recommended at their first hearing. Results have implications for understanding the complex ways in which social processes may motivate some children to retract previous reports of sexual abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559516650936DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6353559PMC
August 2016

Maltreated Children's Ability to Make Temporal Judgments Using a Recurring Landmark Event.

J Interpers Violence 2019 02 22;34(4):873-883. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

2 University of California, Irvine, USA.

This study examined whether maltreated children are capable of judging the location and order of significant events with respect to a recurring landmark event. One hundred sixty-seven 6- to 10-year-old maltreated children were asked whether the current day, their last court visit, and their last change in placement were "near" their birthday and "before or after" their birthday. Children showed some understanding that the target event was "near" and "before" their birthday when their birthday was less than 3 months hence, but were relatively insensitive to preceding birthdays. Therefore, children exhibited a prospective bias, preferentially answering with reference to a forthcoming birthday rather than a past birthday. The results demonstrate that the recurring nature of some landmark events makes questions about them referentially ambiguous and children's answers subject to misinterpretation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260516645812DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445385PMC
February 2019

Valence, Implicated Actor, and Children's Acquiescence to False Suggestions.

J Appl Dev Psychol 2016 Mar-Apr;43:1-7

, , University of Southern California, 699 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90089 United States.

Although adverse effects of suggestive interviewing on children's accuracy are well documented, it remains unclear as to whether these effects vary depending on the valence of and the actor implicated in suggestions. In this study, 124 3-8-year-olds participated in a classroom activity and were later questioned about positive and negative false details. The interviewer provided positive reinforcement when children acquiesced to suggestions and negative feedback when they did not. Following reinforcement or feedback, young children were comparably suggestible for positive and negative details. With age, resistance to suggestions about negative details emerged first, followed by resistance to suggestions about positive details. Across age, more negative feedback was required to induce acquiescence to negative than positive false details. Finally, children were less willing to acquiesce when they (versus the confederate) were implicated. Findings highlight the interactive effects of valence and children's age on their eyewitness performance in suggestive contexts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2015.12.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4778088PMC
March 2017