Kelly Mcwilliams

Kelly Mcwilliams
City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice | John Jay CUNY · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

37
Publications
10,583
Reads
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345
Citations
Introduction
Additional affiliations
September 2014 - August 2017
University of Southern California
Position
  • PhD Student
September 2008 - August 2014
University of California, Davis
Position
  • PhD Student
January 2006 - July 2008
Emory University
Position
  • Research Assistant

Publications

Publications (37)
Article
Full-text available
The verbs ask and tell can be used both epistemically, referring to the flow of information, or deontically, referring to obligations through polite requests or commands. Some researchers suggest that children’s understanding of deontic modals emerges earlier than their understanding of epistemic modals, possibly because theory of mind is required...
Article
Full-text available
Forensic interviewers ask children broad input-free recall questions about individual episodes in order to elicit complete narratives, often asking about “the first time,” “the last time,” and “one time.” An overlooked problem is that the word “time” is potentially ambiguous, referring both to a particular episode and to conventional temporal infor...
Article
Children may be asked questions with subtle and implied meanings. The present study examined whether, and under what conditions, 5- to 10-year-old children affirmed polysemous implicature questions that implied coaching, when in fact no coaching occurred. Participants (N = 161) were presented with vignettes about a transgression where the child dis...
Article
Parents’ attachment orientations predict children’s memory about distressing life events, such that parents who are less secure in close relationships tend to have children who are less accurate in their memory reports. This study examined whether socially supportive interviewing would reduce differences in children’s memory performance associated...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers studying children’s reports of sexual abuse have focused on how questioners overtly assess coaching and truthfulness (e.g., “Did someone tell you what to say?”). Yet attorneys, and defense attorneys in particular, may be motivated to ask about suggestive influence and truthfulness in subtle ways, such as with implied meaning (e.g., “Did...
Article
Full-text available
The disclosure process for children who have experienced maltreatment is often difficult. In an effort to support children in their disclosures, interviewers have increasingly turned to empirically-based interview protocols (i.e., questioning strategies) that both decrease the suggestibility of questions while also increasing the productivity of ch...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Two studies examined 4-7-year-old maltreated children's "I don't know" (IDK) responses to wh- questions after receiving various interview instructions. Hypotheses: We predicted (H1) children would be less inclined to give IDK responses and more inclined to guess to color/number questions compared to other wh- questions; (H2) IDK instr...
Article
Full-text available
We propose that young children exhibit an order of encoding bias, such that they are inclined to report or act out events in the order in which they were originally encoded. This bias helps to explain why children assume that events they first hear described are in chronological order and why they often appear to understand “after” better than “bef...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s ability to adequately describe clothing placement is essential to evaluating their allegations of sexual abuse. Intermediate clothing placement (partially removed clothing) may be difficult for young children to describe, requiring more detailed explanations to indicate the location of clothing (e.g., the clothes were pulled down to the...
Article
Full-text available
Most child forensic interviewing protocols recommend that interviewers administer a series of ground rules to emphasize concepts that are important to accurately answering interview questions. Limited research has examined whether interviewers follow ground rules recommendations in real-world forensic interviews. In this study, we examined how ofte...
Article
Full-text available
Parent-child discussions can scaffold children’s memory development. However, few studies have investigated parent-child discussions when caregivers have been misled (biased) to fear their children experienced a negative event. This study investigated the effects of bias on parents’ reminiscing style and children’s report of a staged event. Three-...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the role of age, maltreatment status, and executive functioning (EF) on 752 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and nonmaltreated children’s recall disclosure of a transgression in which they appeared to have broken toys while playing with a stranger. Interviewers used narrative practice rapport-building and then questioned children wit...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Children are often hesitant to disclose transgressions, particularly when they feel implicated, and frequently remain reluctant until confronted with direct questions. Given the risks associated with direct questions, an important issue is how interviewers can encourage honesty through recall questions. Objective: The present study e...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter we provide an overview of psychological issues involving children’s capacities as witnesses. First, in order to understand the most important questions for researchers, we discuss the kinds of cases in which children are usually involved. Across different courts, one most often sees children describing abuse at the hands of familiar...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Children alleging sexual abuse rarely exhibit emotion when disclosing, but they may be able to describe their subjective reactions to abuse if asked. Objective: This study examined the extent to which different types of questions in child sexual abuse interviews elicited subjective content, namely emotional reactions, cognitive content,...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s memories for their conversations are commonly explored in child abuse cases. In two studies, we examined conversational recall in 154 4- to 9-year-old children’s reports of an interaction with a stranger, some of whom were complicit in a transgression and were admonished to keep it a secret. Immediately afterwards, all children were inte...
Conference Paper
Asking children about conversations may both elicit allegations and aid in assessing allegations. Seventy-one children (5 - 9-year-olds) engaged in toy play with a confederate that ended in toy breakage, and were then questioned about their interaction. After one week, they were questioned by a second interviewer, who asked both free recall questio...
Article
This study tested predictions from Bowlby's attachment theory about children's memory and suggestibility. Young children (3-5years old, N=88; 76% Caucasians) and their parents took part in the Strange Situation Procedure, a moderately distressing event and "gold standard" for assessing children's attachment quality. The children were then interview...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s potential confusion between “ask” and “tell” can lead to misunderstandings when child witnesses are asked to report prior conversations. The verbs distinguish both between interrogating and informing and between requesting and commanding. Children’s understanding was examined using both field (i.e., Study 1) and laboratory (i.e., Studies...
Article
Full-text available
Children’s descriptions of clothing placement and touching with respect to clothing are central to assessing child sexual abuse allegations. This study examined children’s ability to answer the types of questions attorneys and interviewers typically ask about clothing, using the most common spatial terms (on/off, outside/inside, over/under). Ninety...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the effects of secret instructions (distinguishing between good/bad secrets and encouraging disclosure of bad secrets) and yes/no questions (DID: “Did the toy break?” versus DYR: “Do you remember if the toy broke?”) on 262 maltreated and non-maltreated children's (age range 4–9 years) reports of a minor transgression. Over two-t...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the effects of the hypothetical putative confession (telling children “What if I said that [the suspect] told me everything that happened and he said he wants you to tell the truth?”) and negatively valenced yes/no questions varying in their explicitness (“Did the [toy] break?” vs. “Did something bad happen to the [toy]?”) on tw...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined whether maltreated children are capable of judging the location and order of significant events with respect to a recurring landmark event. One hundred sixty-seven 6- to 10-year-old maltreated children were asked whether the current day, their last court visit, and their last change in placement were "near" their birthday and "b...
Article
Full-text available
Ross Cheit’s book The Witch-Hunt Narrative highlights the difficulties of prosecuting child sexual abuse. Drawing examples from a single case, Alex A., we examine the ways in which false acquittals of sexual abuse are likely to occur. First, prosecutors tend to question children in ways that undermine their productivity and credibility. Second, pro...
Chapter
Based on extensive developmental science research, we discuss the general findings and themes for forensic interviewers to keep in mind when interviewing children about sexual abuse. Our review is divided into three separate sections: the interviewee (i.e., the child eyewitness), the interviewer, and the interview. In the interviewee section, we pr...
Article
Two experiments were conducted to examine eyewitness memory in children and adolescents (9- to 15-years-old) with and without known histories of maltreatment (e.g., physical abuse, exposure to domestic violence). In Experiment 1, participants (N = 35) viewed a positive film clip depicting a congenial interaction between family members. In Experimen...
Chapter
This chapter discusses only a subset of the many fascinating topics that link memory development and law. It reviews core basic memory development principles that are important in the legal context. The chapter focuses on distress, trauma and memory, a topic of vital concern given the types of cases that come to the attention of police officers, ch...
Chapter
Full-text available
Children as witnesses worldwide, many thousands – if not millions – of children serve as witnesses in legal actions every year. Victims of child maltreatment as well as children who witness or experience other types of illegal activity (for example, domestic violence, murder, kidnapping, robbery, gang violence, war crimes) may be interviewed by aut...
Article
Building on the simulated-amnesia work of Christianson and Bylin (Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 495-511, 1999), the present research introduces a new paradigm for the scientific study of memory of childhood sexual abuse information. In Session 1, participants mentally took the part of an abuse victim as they read an account of the sexual assaul...
Article
From its inception, child eyewitness memory research has been guided by dramatic legal cases that turn on the testimony of children. Decades of scientific research reveal that, under many conditions, children can provide veracious accounts of traumatic experiences. Scientific studies also document factors that lead children to make false statements...
Article
Full-text available
Family reminiscing is a critical part of family interaction related to child outcome. In this study, we extended previous research by examining both mothers and fathers, in two-parent racially diverse middle-class families, reminiscing with their 9- to 12-year-old children about both the facts and the emotional aspects of shared positive and negati...