Publications by authors named "Karen J Saywitz"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effects of Interviewer Support on Children's Memory and Suggestibility: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Experimental Research.

Trauma Violence Abuse 2019 01 19;20(1):22-39. Epub 2016 Dec 19.

4 Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.

The accuracy of children's reports of abuse has been hotly debated in the press, academia, and the courtroom. Yet, children's accuracy depends, in part, on the context in which children are interviewed. Guidelines often recommend creating a supportive psychosocial context to promote open, honest responding; however, there is also concern that support promotes social desirability and acquiescence to suggestion, leading children to report more of what they perceive adults want to hear than the truth. The question remains as to whether there is a sufficient body of scientific research to determine whether interviewer supportiveness improves interview outcomes while minimizing children's stress or whether it increases suggestibility and impairs accuracy. Using a systematic search strategy and meta-analyses, this study identifies and reviews findings from experimental studies of the effects of interviewer supportiveness on the accuracy of children's reports. Although the number of studies in the evidence base is small ( n = 15), the studies are of relatively good quality. Results suggest noncontingent interviewer support bolsters children's accuracy. Children are more resistant and less acquiescent to suggestive questions when interviewers are supportive as compared to nonsupportive or neutral. Effects are in the moderate range. Interviewer support is also associated with fewer errors on nonsuggestive questions. Discussion focuses on implications for practice; directions for future research; identifying vulnerable subgroups; and underlying cognitive, social, and emotional mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1524838016683457DOI Listing
January 2019

Preparing Children for Court: Effects of a Model Court Education Program on Children's Anticipatory Anxiety.

Behav Sci Law 2015 Aug;33(4):459-75

Department of Psychiatry and Bio-behavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

The current study examined whether a pretrial preparation program, consisting of legal knowledge education, stress inoculation training, and a mock trial, is associated with decreased anticipatory anxiety of child witnesses. One hundred and ninety-three 4- to 17-year-olds who were awaiting impending legal proceedings attended Kids' Court School in Las Vegas, NV, one to two weeks before their court appearances. Participants completed a measure of anticipatory court-related anxiety before and after the intervention. As predicted, children's anticipatory anxiety decreased significantly from pretest to posttest. Results demonstrate the promise of a brief, unbiased, standardized program for reducing system-induced stress on child witnesses, while maintaining the integrity of the legal process. This study serves as a springboard to guide future research, practice, policy, and implementation on a larger scale.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2191DOI Listing
August 2015

Developing Rapport with Children in Forensic Interviews: Systematic Review of Experimental Research.

Behav Sci Law 2015 Aug 21;33(4):372-89. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Institute of Digital Research and Education, University of California, Los Angeles.

The vast majority of guidelines recommend that developing rapport with children is essential for successful forensic child interviewing; however, the question remains as to whether there is a sufficient body of scientific research to generate evidence-based guidelines for developing rapport with children in legal contexts. To answer this question, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify experimental studies of the effects of rapport-building methods on the reliability of children's reports. Independent raters applied 12 exclusion criteria to the 2,761 potentially relevant articles located by electronic and hand searches of the literature. Experimental studies were few. Although studies to date are a beginning, the overall scientific base is weak regarding even basic issues such as how to best define rapport and the efficacy of common rapport-building techniques. This systematic review highlights what we know, what we do not know, and how much more we need to know to create evidence-based best practice. Recommendations for reshaping the research agenda are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2186DOI Listing
August 2015

Autobiographical memory specificity in child sexual abuse victims.

Dev Psychopathol 2013 May;25(2):321-32

Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

The present study examined the specificity of autobiographical memory in adolescents and adults with versus without child sexual abuse (CSA) histories. Eighty-five participants, approximately half of whom per age group had experienced CSA, were tested on the autobiographical memory interview. Individual difference measures, including those for trauma-related psychopathology, were also administered. Findings revealed developmental differences in the relation between autobiographical memory specificity and CSA. Even with depression statistically controlled, reduced memory specificity in CSA victims relative to controls was observed among adolescents but not among adults. A higher number of posttraumatic stress disorder criteria met predicted more specific childhood memories in participants who reported CSA as their most traumatic life event. These findings contribute to the scientific understanding of childhood trauma and autobiographical memory functioning and underscore the importance of considering the role of age and degree of traumatization within the study of autobiographical memory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579412001083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3794469PMC
May 2013

Detecting deception in children: event familiarity affects criterion-based content analysis ratings.

J Appl Psychol 2004 Feb;89(1):119-26

Department of Psychology, School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA 91711-3955, USA.

Statement Validity Assessment (SVA) is a comprehensive credibility assessment system, with the Criterion-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) as a core component. Worldwide, the CBCA is reported to be the most widely used veracity assessment instrument. We tested and confirmed the hypothesis that CBCA scores are affected by event familiarity; descriptions of familiar events are more likely to be judged true than are descriptions of unfamiliar events. CBCA scores were applied to transcripts of 114 children who recalled a routine medical procedure (control) or a traumatic medical procedure that they had experienced one time (relatively unfamiliar) or multiple times (relatively familiar). CBCA scores were higher for children in the relatively familiar than the relatively unfamiliar condition, and CBCA scores were significantly correlated with age. Results raise serious questions regarding the forensic suitability of the CBCA for assessing the veracity of children's accounts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.89.1.119DOI Listing
February 2004