Would you believe a child witness? When Gail Goodman first posed this question in 1981, she found that most judges and juries didn’t have an answer, so she conducted much of the early research in the now robust fields of child memory and children as eyewitnesses. She showed that many children are quite capable of accurately recounting witnessed events, but that their accuracy is strongly affected by factors like the type of questions asked and the amount of intimidation or comfort the child experiences while being interviewed. She has also studied the emotional effects of testifying on a child, and has found that many children who have testified in a legal setting showed improvements in emotional well-being over time comparable to that for child victims who did not testify. For other children, special protections in court are likely needed. Goodman is a recipient of the APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for her lifetime of significant intellectual achievements in applied psychological research and impact on a critical problem in society at large.
June 27, 2012