The Effect of Order of Presentation of Child Abuse Allegations on Mock Jurors' Decision-Making
New Zealand, like other countries, makes special provisions for child witnesses in cases of suspected sexual abuse. For example, during a trial, portions of a child’s pre-recorded evidence can be shown to the jury without showing the entire interview and portions of the interview transcripts can be presented in the same way. Previous research has demonstrated that the presence of additional, less plausible allegations does not influence mock jurors’ verdicts regarding the core allegation. In two experiments, we examined whether the order in which allegations are presented to mock jurors influences the verdicts that they render. Mock jurors were assigned to one of four transcript conditions in which the order of presentation of the allegations in the transcripts differed. After reading their assigned transcript, mock jurors completed an online questionnaire to assess their judgements of the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Contrary to what we predicted, the order of presentation of the allegations had no effect on mock jurors’ verdict on the core allegation. The most common reasons that mock jurors gave for rendering a guilty verdict to the core allegation were based on the child complainant’s personal attributes. Our findings suggest that current provisions in the legislation that allow the truncation of children’s evidence may not impact the outcome of a child abuse trial, but further research is still needed to gain a better understanding of the process of jurors’ decision-making.
Advisor: Hayne, Harlene; Gross, Julien
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Juror decision-making
Research Type: Thesis