Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can affect multiple memory abilities, including episodic memory, source monitoring, and relational processing. The possibility of these memory deficits can affect how a child with ASD testifies in court if they are the victim or witness to a crime. These testimonies are especially crucial for Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) cases where one of the biggest challenges is the lack of physical evidence in most cases, which leads to an abundance of trials relying on the initial forensic interview with the victim and victim testimony. Due to this, and the increased chance of affected memory abilities, it is especially important that these interviews with an ASD witness are conducted using the best practices possible to ensure that the jury will perceive this witness as credible. Equally as necessary, the age of the child witness can affect how much the jury relies on their testimony. This study aims to explore the effects on juror perceptions for different types of forensic interviews as they relate to CSA cases using a victim with an ASD diagnosis, or no diagnosis. The present study will use the general population and participants will participate in a 2 Autism (ASD diagnosis, and no diagnosis) by 3 interview quality (good, typical, and poor) x 2 age (five-years-old, and eight-years-old) between-subjects design. We found that there was a significant interaction of victim age and interview quality, as well as a three-way interaction of victim age, interview quality and ASD diagnosis on verdict confidence. Secondly, we found that interview quality had a significant main effect on almost all of the perception scales, and that cognitive ability and suggestibility perceptions were significantly affected by the ASD diagnosis manipulation. Lastly, we examined age for exploratory purposes only and found a main effect on victim cognitive ability and an interaction of victim age and ASD diagnosis for victim honesty.
Blackburn, Megan, "Juror Perceptions Of Interview Quality From Child Victims With Autism" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 3369.