Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2024


Eyewitness accounts have been integral to the criminal justice system. However, given that not every criminal case has forensic evidence that is available or admissible, the reliance on eyewitness accounts conjures questions about believability. This is an important area of research because the over-belief of witnesses may lead to wrongful convictions, yet under-belief may leave the victim without justice. The current study investigated how child-witness age, race, role as a witness (bystander versus victim), and the gender of the juror influenced the perception of child eyewitnesses through the lens of the Witness Credibility Model. Participants were presented with the testimony of a child bystander or victim, who varied in age and race, and were asked to rate how believable they found the child to be. This study hypothesized that participants would find the younger children, the Black children, and the child bystanders as less believable than the older children, the White children, and the child victims. Additionally, female participants were predicted to believe the child eyewitness more than the male participants. Only the hypothesis about juror gender was supported. These results provide some evidence for the idea that the believability of a child eyewitness may partially depend on the person perceiving them, which calls forth the need to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system by enforcing diverse juries.


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