Kristina Todorovic was awarded the Department of Psychology Meritorious Research Grant for her dissertation entitled Event Memory and Susceptibility to Different Modes of Suggestion in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Abstract: To date, evidence-based guidelines for interviewing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) do not exist. A number of different evidence-based interview protocols exist worldwide, but the protocols were empirically derived based on typically developing (TD) children. Past studies have reported children with ASD display similar levels of suggestibility to misleading questions compared to TD children. However, extant studies are scant and have relied on a single measure of suggestibility. Thus, the proposed study will investigate whether event memory and susceptibility to different modes of suggestion (e.g., free recall, interrogative suggestibility, misinformation effects, and source misattribution) differ among children with ASD and TD age- and gender-matched peers. Children will be excluded from data analyses if they have a Full-Scale IQ below 90. In the proposed study, 60 (30 ASD, 30 TD) 6- to 9-year- old children will participant in a two-session study. Primary caregivers will complete assessments on their child’s autistic traits and anxiety. In Session 1, children will individually engage in a staged event. During the event, children will be asked to keep a secret about a minor transgression (“breaking” a toy) the research assistant commits. Immediately after, children will be interviewed using free recall prompts and given true and false reminders about the event. After a short break, children will be administered two subscales of the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (2nd edition). Two weeks later, in Session 2, an unfamiliar interviewer will assess children’s recall and recognition memory for the staged event. Children will also be asked about the minor transgression to assess whether they keep the secret or disclose the transgression. Children will then complete child-normed neutral and emotionally-valenced Deese Roediger-McDermott tasks and a trust belief scale. In addition to the theoretical contribution, these results will be important to professionals who interview children with ASD by further understanding how autobiographical memory works in children with ASD. If successful, these results can be used to develop evidence-based guidelines for interviewing children with ASD and to guide early intervention programs.
Kristina Todorovic will be presenting her paper Does Metasuggestibility Predict Memory Distortion Among School-aged Children? at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS). The conference will be held in New Orleans, LA March 5th to March 7th.
Abstract: Metacognition is defined in short as ‘thinking about thinking.’ Knowledge about memory has received extensive research attention and found to predict the development of children’s memory strategies. In the current study, we explored children’s metasuggestibility as an underlying mechanism of memory suggestibility. Ninety-four 7- to 9-year-olds participated in a metasuggestibility task and a standard misinformation paradigm, with task order randomly assigned. Results revealed 7-year-olds profited more from the metasuggestibility-first order task than older children. We believe because 7-year-olds are not at the threshold of concept attainment they cannot reflect on previous experiences to make this link. Implications are discussed.
We were honored to meet one of the men falsely convicted in the Central Park Jogger case, one of the exonerated five! Hopefully this case reminds us to conduct proper investigative interviews and not rush to judgment.
Title: The Role of Contextual Pre-Interview Information in Child Sexual Abuse Forensic Interviews
Abstract: Forensic interviewers are expected to conduct unbiased investigations of crime. In the field of child sexual abuse, interviewers are often provided pre-interview information, increasing the risk of confirmation bias. The purpose of the present study is to investigate if pre-interview information pertaining to an alleged victim’s psychosocial history affects interviewers’ perceived credibility of the abuse allegation and interviewing style. Forensic interviewers will read a case summary in which pre-interview information is manipulated and conduct a mock forensic interview with the alleged victim. Interviewers will also provide subjective base rate estimates pertaining to behavioral indicators among abused and non-abused children.
Amy Capparelli successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Human Trafficking 101: What are the Outcomes of Human Trafficking Training?”
Abstract: Sex trafficking is a public health concern affecting approximately 4.5 million victims each year (International Labor Office, 2012). Despite the pervasiveness of sex trafficking, many people still hold false beliefs about the topic. Endorsement of false beliefs may lead to failure to identify victims and victim blaming (Cunningham & Cromer, 2014). A variety of educational trainings are available for professionals and community members to learn more about sex trafficking. The goals of such trainings are to reduce the endorsement of common myths about trafficking, and to increase identification of victims and reporting of suspicions to authorities. Trainings are provided in a variety of formats such as: facts-only (Polaris Project, 2012), stories-only (Equality Now, 2014), and combined facts and stories (Department of Homeland Security, 2018). However, there is little literature investigating the efficacy of sex trafficking educational trainings. In the current study, 268 participants were recruited nationwide using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants completed several questionnaires online as a pre-training assessment. Variables assessed included: myth endorsement, self-reported and actual knowledge, identification of sex trafficking scenarios, reactions to sex trafficking scenarios, and willingness to engage in behaviors to combat trafficking. Next, participants were randomly assigned to complete one of three trainings (i.e., facts-only, stories-only, combination) to learn about sex trafficking. One week later, participants completed the same questionnaires online as a post-training assessment. Participants were most satisfied with the facts-only training. Participants showed improvements in myth endorsement, perceived and actual knowledge, identification of sex trafficking, risk sensitivity to sex trafficking scenarios, victim blaming, decision to report sex trafficking scenarios to authorities, perceptions of sex trafficking as a major problem, willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors to combat sex trafficking, and likelihood to engage in behaviors to intervene in a situation where sex trafficking was suspected. Explanations for the findings and directions for future research and practice are discussed.