Mock Juror Perceptions of Child Witnesses on the Autism Spectrum: The Impact of Providing Diagnostic Labels and Information About Autism

Laura Crane, Rachel Wilcock, Katie Maras, Wing Chui, Carmen Marti-Sanchez, Lucy Henry

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Abstract

Research suggests that autistic children can provide accurate and forensically useful eyewitness evidence. However, members of a jury also rely on non-verbal behaviours when judging the credibility of a witness, and this could determine the verdict of a case. We presented mock jurors with videos (from an experimental study) of one of two child witnesses on the autism spectrum being interviewed about a mock minor crime. Results demonstrated that providing jurors with generic information about autism and/or informing them of the child’s diagnostic label differentially affected credibility ratings, but not for both children. Implications for how to present information about child witnesses with autism to a jury – highlighting the need for approaches tailored to individual children – are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • autism
  • criminal justice
  • jury,
  • credibility
  • eyewitness memory

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