Nadia, cry baby cry

In an experimental legal psychology study, two young actors (one girl and one boy) portrayed victims in a mock-police investigation. They were questioned by the police about how they had been harassed by older schoolmates. The police interviews were videotaped in two versions: In one version the children appeared in a neutral manner but in the other version, the children showed clear signs of distress, as they sobbed and hesitated before answering the police officers’ questions.
The films were later shown and assessed by law students that were familiar with the Supreme Court’s criteria for how to assess the credibility of testimonies.
The results show that the children, despite giving the exact same testimonies, were perceived as more credible and truthful when expressing emotions than when behaving in a more neutral manner. The reason for these differences was that the law students had stereotypical believes that child victims should appear emotional. The law students also felt greater compassion for the emotional children.
‘This is problematic since many children don’t display strong negative emotions when questioned by police,’ says Sara Landström, researcher in legal psychology at the Department of Psychology. ‘There is a risk that these children will be considered less credible in court.’ –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a child who witnesses a crime.

Journaling Prompt: How do you handle your emotions under times of duress? How effective do you feel as your emotions play out?

Art Prompt: Child Witness

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about strategies for dealing with emotions during a stressful confrontation or interview.

Photo Credit: Toni Blay on Flickr

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