PSY 4470 South University Validity of Children as Witnesses Discussion


There is an ongoing debate in the field of psychology regarding the validity of children as witnesses. Issues surrounding suggestive questioning and accurate memory recall are just a few of the concerns related to using children as witnesses. According to psychologists, “eyewitness accuracy” is also affected by system variables.

The term “system variable” refers to those factors that are under the control of the criminal justice system. According to the course textbook, the term “estimator variable” refers to the factors that are beyond the control of the justice system. To test witnesses deception to the crime reported is an important step in justifying any crime. Polygraph (or as some refer to it—the “lie detector”) has been used for many years to detect deception. According to the course textbook, the polygraph measures physiological arousal in combination with a specific questioning strategy.

Conduct research on children as witnesses, eyewitness accuracy, and polygraph tests. Based on your understanding, address the following:

  • Describe the effects of suggestive questioning.
  • Break down several issues surrounding the debate regarding children as witnesses. Describe the ways in which you feel children should or should not be considered credible witnesses. Support your response with examples.
  • Describe questioning techniques that are deemed effective when speaking to children as witnesses.
  • Compare the term “system variable” with “estimator variable.” Identify the factors that differentiate these two terms.
  • Provide an example each of an estimator variable and a system variable, and describe how the respective variables relate to the legal process.
  • Explain some of the cues for deceptions that psychologists look for and describe how they assess these cues.
  • Analyze and explain whether stereotypes or stereotype beliefs influence perception in assessment.
  • List and describe some major concerns regarding the validity of a polygraph and also explain some of the benefits of using a polygraph as part of a legal investigation.
  • Describe several ways the polygraph has been advanced as a technique throughout the past decade. Use your textbook, lectures, and external resources (including the South University Online Library or the Internet) to support your response.
  • Explain the two ways in which the polygraph record results are used in court.

Please add 2 additional questions that could be used to further the conversation in regards to the topic in about 250 words.


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