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The aims of the present study were to analyse people’s natural ability to discriminate between true and false statements provided by people with intellectual disability (IQTRUE = 62.00, SD = 10.07; IQFALSE = 58.41, SD = 8.42), and the differentiating characteristics of such people’s statements using criteria-based content analysis (CBCA). Thirty-three people assessed 16 true statements and 13 false statements using their normal abilities. Two other evaluators trained in CBCA evaluated the same statements. The natural evaluators differentiated between true and false statements with somewhat above-chance accuracy, even though error rate was high (38.19%). That lay participants could not effectively discriminate between false and true statements demonstrates that such assessments cannot be considered useful in a forensic context. The CBCA technique did discriminate at a better level than intuitive judgements. However, of the 19 criteria, only one significantly discriminated. More procedures specifically adapted to the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities are thus required. The presence of structured production, quantity of details, characteristics details and unexpected complications increased the probability that a statement would be considered true by non-expert evaluators. The classification made by the non-expert evaluators was independent of the participants’ IQ. A big data analysis is performed in search for better classification quality.
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Correspondence: (A. L. Manzanero).
Cite this article as: Manzanero, A. L., Scott, M. T., Vallet, R., Aróztegui, J., & Bull, R. (2019). Criteria-based content analysis in true and simulated victims with intellectual disability.
Anuario de Psicología Jurídica, 29,
ISSN: 1133-0740/© 2019 Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Criteria-based Content Analysis in True and Simulated Victims with
Intellectual Disability
Antonio L. Manzaneroa, M. Teresa Scottb, Rocío Valleta, Javier Arózteguia, and Ray Bullc
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain;
Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile;
Derby University, United Kingdom
People with intellectual disability (ID) are, for some crimes,
victimised more than the general population and are involved in many
police/legal proceedings as victims for such crimes (González, Cendra,
& Manzanero, 2013). A large proportion of these proceedings never
reach trial. Probably, one of the main reasons for these rejections stems
from the lack of adaptations of police and judicial procedures to the
characteristics of these people (Bull, 2010; Milne & Bull, 2001, 1999),
as well as from the actual myths that society has about the limited
ability of people with ID to testify with accuracy (Henry, Ridley, Perry,
& Crane, 2011; Peled, Iarocci, & Connolly, 2004; Sabsey & Doe, 1991;
Anuario de Psicología Jurídica (2019) 29 55-60
Article history:
Received 28 August 2018
Accepted 26 November 2018
Available online 9 January 2019
Credibility assessment
Intuitive judgments
Intellectual disability
CBCA Content criteria
Big data
The aims of the present study were to analyse people’s natural ability to discriminate between true and false statements
provided by people with intellectual disability (IQTRUE = 62.00,
= 10.07; IQFALSE = 58.41,
= 8.42), and the differentiating
characteristics of such people’s statements using criteria-based content analysis (CBCA). Thirty-three people assessed 16
true statements and 13 false statements using their normal abilities. Two other evaluators trained in CBCA evaluated the
same statements. The natural evaluators differentiated between true and false statements with somewhat above-chance
accuracy, even though error rate was high (38.19%). That lay participants could not effectively discriminate between false
and true statements demonstrates that such assessments cannot be considered useful in a forensic context. The CBCA
technique did discriminate at a better level than intuitive judgements. However, of the 19 criteria, only one significantly
discriminated. More procedures specifically adapted to the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities are thus
required. The presence of structured production, quantity of details, characteristics details and unexpected complications
increased the probability that a statement would be considered true by non-expert evaluators. The classification made by
the non-expert evaluators was independent of the participants’ IQ. A big data analysis is performed in search for better
classification quality.
El análisis de contenido basado en criterios en víctimas reales y simuladas con
discapacidad intelectual
Este trabajo tiene como objetivos examinar la capacidad natural para discriminar entre declaraciones verdaderas y falsas de
personas con discapacidad intelectual (CIVERDADERO = 62.00,
= 10.07; CIFALSO = 58.41,
= 8.42) y las características diferencia-
les de tales declaraciones utilizando los criterios de análisis de contenido de la técnica CBCA. Treinta y tres personas valora-
ron 16 declaraciones verdaderas y 13 falsas utilizando su intuición. Otros dos evaluadores entrenados en CBCA valoraron las
mismas declaraciones. Los evaluadores no expertos diferenciaron entre declaraciones verdaderas y falsas con una precisión
por encima del azar, aunque el índice de errores fue elevado (38.19%). El hecho de que los evaluadores no entrenados no
pudieran discriminar eficazmente entre declaraciones falsas y verdaderas demuestra que la intuición no puede considerarse
útil en un contexto forense. La técnica CBCA discriminó mejor que los juicios intuitivos. No obstante, solo uno de los 19 cri-
terios permitió discriminar de modo significativo, por lo que se necesitan más procedimientos adaptados específicamente
a las aptitudes de los testigos con discapacidad intelectual. La presencia de producción estructurada, cantidad de detalles,
características específicas de la agresión y complicaciones inesperadas incrementaba la probabilidad de que una declaración
fuera considerada verdadera por los evaluadores no expertos. La clasificación realizada por los evaluadores no entrenados
fue independiente del cociente intelectual de los participantes. Se lleva a cabo un análisis de macrodatos para mejorar la
calidad de la clasificación.
Palabras clave:
Análisis de la credibilidad
Juicios intuitivos
Discapacidad intelectual
Criterios de contenido
Anuario de Psicología Jurídica 2019
Anuario de Psicología
Jurídica 2019
Annual Review of Legal
Psychology 2019
Antonio L. Manzanero
Subdirectores/Associate Editors
Enrique Calzada Collantes
Rocío Gómez Hermoso
Miguel Hierro Requena
Mónica Pereira Dávila
M.ª Paz Ruiz Tejedor
Jorge Sobral Fernández
María Yela García
Volumen 29, Año 2019
ISSN: 1133-0740
A. L. Manzanero et al. / Anuario de Psicología Jurídica (2019) 29 55-60
Stobbs & Kebbell, 2003; Tharinger, Horton, & Millea, 1990; Valenti-
Hein & Schwartz, 1993). In many cases, the testimonies associated
with people with ID have been considered less credible (Peled et al.,
2004). On the other hand, one myth implies that people with ID may
be more believable (Bottoms, Nysse-Carris, Harris, & Tyda, 2003).
Some studies (Manzanero, Contreras, Recio, Alemany, & Martorell,
2012) have shown that people with ID may perform approximately the
same as others in forensic contexts. Moreover, their autobiographical
memories may be quite stable over time, being their ability to
describe an event independent of the degree of disability (Morales
et al., 2017). Indeed, Henry et al. (2011) found no correlation between
credibility assessment and either witness mental age or anxiety.
For eyewitnesses with ID, the key may be the lack of studies
regarding differentiating characteristics of their true/false statements.
With other types of population (mainly children), forensic
psychology has proposed useful procedures for assessing credibility
by analyzing the content of statements. One of these procedures is
Statement Validity Assessment (SVA) (Köhnken, Manzanero, & Scott,
2015; Steller & Köhnken, 1989; Volbert & Steller, 2014), a technique
that assesses the credibility of statements given by minors who are
alleged victims of sexual abuse. SVA is a comprehensive procedure
for generating and testing hypotheses about the source and validity
of a given statement. It includes methods of collecting relevant data
regarding such hypotheses and techniques for analyzing these data,
plus guidelines for drawing conclusions regarding the hypotheses.
Criteria-based content analysis (CBCA) is a method included
in SVA for distinguishing truthful from fabricated statements. It is
not applicable for distinguishing statements experienced as real
memories, which are actually the result of suggestive influences
(Scott & Manzanero, 2015; Scott, Manzanero, Muñoz, & Köhnken,
2014), but may be applied complementarily to other procedures
(Blandón-Gitlin, López, Masip, & Fenn, 2017). The use of the CBCA
content criteria in the absence of a detailed analysis of the moderator
variables would produce rather low percentages of discrimination
between true and false statements, where around 30% of false
alarms have been found (Oberlader et al., 2016). Previous research
has shown that the level of accuracy in the classification of true and
false statements can sometimes be low even when evaluators are
specifically trained in this technique, which could indicate that CBCA
has basic problems (Akehurst, Bull, Vrij, & Köhnken, 2004).
Table 1. Content Criteria for Statement Credibility Assessment
1. Logical structure.
2. Unstructured production.
3. Quantity of details.
4. Contextual embedding.
5. Descriptions of interactions.
6. Reproduction of conversation.
7. Unexpected complication during the incident.
8. Unusual details.
9. Superfluous details.
10. Accurately reported details misunderstood.
11. Related external associations.
12. Accounts of subjective mental state.
13. Attribution of perpetrator’s mental state.
14. Spontaneous corrections.
15. Admitting lack of memory.
16. Raising doubts about one’s own testimony.
17. Self-deprecation.
18. Pardoning the perpetrator.
19. Details characteristic of the offence.
CBCA takes into account 19 content criteria grouped into five
categories (see Table 1): general characteristics, specific contents of
the statement, peculiarities of content, motivation-related contents,
and offence-specific elements. The basic assumption of the CBCA is
that statements based on memories of real events are qualitatively
different from statements not based on experience (Undeutsch,
1982). According to his original proposal, each content criterion is
an indicator of truth; its presence in a given statement is viewed as
an indicator of the truth of that statement, but its absence does not
necessarily mean the statement is false. This assumption has been
shown to be incomplete, because it does not consider false memories
as a source of incorrect statements, nor the effects of liars knowing
about the criteria (Vrij, Akehurst, Soukara, & Bull, 2004a). However,
not all the criteria are always relevant when it comes to discriminating
(Bekerian & Dennett, 1992; Manzanero, 2006, 2009; Manzanero,
López, & Aróztegui, 2016; Porter & Yuille, 1996; Sporer & Sharman,
2006; Vrij, 2005; Vrij, Akehurst, Soukara, & Bull, 2004b); the presence
of these criteria depends on a host of moderator variables (Hauch,
Blandón-Gitlin, Masip, & Sporer, 2015; Oberlader et al., 2016).
Among these variables are preparation (Manzanero & Diges,
1995), time delay (Manzanero, 2006; McDougall & Bull, 2015), the
individual’s age (Comblain, D’Argembeau, & Van der Linden, 2005;
Roberts & Lamb, 2010), and the asking of questions and multiple
retrieval (Strömwall, Bengtsson, Leander, & Granhag, 2004). Also,
fantasies, lies, dreams, and post-event information do not each involve
the same differentiating characteristics. Furthermore, changing
a small detail, however important it may be, of a real event—such
as whether the role played in the event was witness or protagonist
(Manzanero, 2009)—is not the same as fabricating an entire event.
Indeed, false statements rarely are entirely fabricated but originate, in
part, from actual experiences that are modified to create something
new. In addition, the characteristics of statements vary depending on
the person’s ability to generate a plausible statement. This is relevant
to people with ID, it having been proposed that lying would usually
be cognitively more complex than telling the truth (Vrij, Fisher, Mann,
& Leal, 2006) and, therefore, would involve a greater demand for
cognitive resources (Vrij & Heaven, 1999).
The aims of the present study were (i) to use CBCA in order to
analyze the statements given by true and simulating witnesses
with intellectual disability, (ii) people’s intuitive ability to discri-
minate between the two types of statements, and (iii) the ability to
discriminate through big data analysis.
Video recorded accounts provided by 32 people with mild to
moderate, non-specific intellectual disability were used as material to
be analyzed. Fifteen participants were true witnesses to a real event
that took place two years ago when the bus they were travelling during
a day trip caught fire. Those participants had an average IQ of 62.00
= 10.07) and were 33.93 years old (
= 6.49). Seventeen other
participants who provided simulated accounts of the same event had
an average IQ of 58.41 (
= 8.42) and were 31.75 years old (
= 7.07).
No significant differences were found in IQ as a function of condition,
(1, 30) = 1.204,
= .281, η2 = .039. The IQ scores were obtained by the
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV; Wechsler, 2008).
All of these 32 participants provided informed consent. The
statements were obtained with a procedure similar to that used in
other studies (Vrij et al., 2004a, 2004b), as follows:
All the participants who did not go on the day trip knew the event
beforehand, because they knew the people involved as they belong
to the same care centre for people with intellectual disabilities. The
event was very commented by everyone when it took place and it
was even informed in the media. In any case, a verbal summary of the
most important information about the day trip, such as its location,
the main complication on the day trip, and the course of the day was
given to all participants of either condition. To increase the ecological
CBCA in Victims with Intellectual Disability
validity of the study, all 32 participants were encouraged to give their
testimonies as best they could. While they were not put under the
stress of trying to make the interviewer believe their testimony (to
prevent undue tension in the interview), we told them they would be
invited to a soda if they succeeded in convincing the interviewer that
they had, in fact, experienced the event (all of them actually received
this invitation).
Two forensic psychologists, experts on interviewing and taking
testimony, from the Unit for Victims with Intellectual Disability,
interviewed each of these 32 participants individually. An audiovisual
recording was made of all interviews. The same instructions were
followed: “We want you to tell us, with as much detail as you can,
from the beginning to the end, what happened when you went on the
day trip and the bus caught fire. We want you to tell us even the things
you think are not very important.” Once a free-recall statement was
obtained, all participants were asked the same questions: Who were
you with? Where was it? Where did you go? What did you do? What
happened afterwards? The forensic psychologists who conducted the
interviews were blind to the groups (true vs. false experience) the
participants belonged to.
Once the testimonies were obtained, the videos were evaluated
using two different procedures: a) intuitive analysis carried out by
people without knowledge of forensic psychology and b) technical
analysis performed by forensic psychologists using CBCA criteria.
Of the 32 statements discussed above, two videos of the true
condition and one of the false condition were removed from the
intuitive judgments. This was due to communication problems that
prevented the evaluators from understanding what the participants
said in the conditions in which the intuitive evaluation was carried out.
Intuitive Credibility Assessment
There were 33 participants as evaluators (6 men and 27 women;
age average 23.54,
= 4.04), recruited among psychology students
in Spain, who wanted to voluntarily participate in the study. They
did not receive any compensation for participating, and had no
specific knowledge of credibility analysis techniques and no specific
understanding of intellectual disability.
The video recordings of sixteen true and thirteen false
statements were shown on a large-format screen at the university.
All evaluators attended the showing at the same time, but they
were prevented from interacting so that they did not bias each
other while making their individual assessments. The instructions
were as follows: “Next, a series of videos will be shown in which
people with intellectual disability are talking about an event
related to a bus accident. Some of the statements were given by
individuals who experienced that event; the others were given by
individuals who, although they were not there, were told about the
event, and they have given their statement with the intention of
making us believe they were there. The task is to decide who is
telling the truth and who is lying to us. As you are assessing each
statement, bear in mind that the interviewees are all people with
intellectual disability, so their way of telling things may be special.”
The twenty-nine videos were shown in random order to prevent a
learning effect from impacting the ability to evaluate true and false
statements. After each video was shown, the evaluators were asked
to categorize the statement as true or false. In the first evaluations,
it was observed that the viewing of 29 videos produced saturation
and fatigue in the evaluators. To avoid this circumstance leading
to random decisions, it was decided to submit to each evaluator a
maximum of 15 videos, taking care that finally all the videos were
evaluated. In any case, the evaluators were warned that when they
felt very tired, they should warn the experimenters. A total of 197
evaluations of the true condition and 256 evaluations of the false
condition were collected.
Analysis of Phenomenological Characteristics of the
Statements Using CBCA Criteria
The interview video recordings were transcribed to facilitate
analysis of the phenomenological characteristics of the statements.
Two trained CBCA evaluators each made their own criteria assessment
of each statement and then reached an interjudge agreement.
To assess the CBCA criteria codings for inter-coder reliability, an
agreement index was computed as follows: AI = agreements /
(agreements + disagreements). For all the variables, this was greater
than the cut-off of .80 (Tversky, 1977), except for “logical structure”
and “unstructured production”, where it was .67.
Each criterion was assessed in terms of its absence or presence
in the statement, as was originally defined by Steller and Köhnken
(1989). To measure the degree of presence of each criterion, the
evaluators quantified how many times the criterion was present
throughout the report. For the criteria of “quantity of details”, the
micropropositions that described, as objectively as possible, what
happened in the actual event were used, which is a better measure
than counting words because it is not influenced by the descriptive
style used by participants.
Criterion 13, “attribution of perpetrator’s mental state”, was
modified to be “attribution of other’s mental state”. Criterion 19,
“details characteristic of the offence”, was modified to be “details
characteristic of the event”. Criteria 17 (self-deprecation) and 18
“Pardoning the perpetrator”, were not taken into consideration,
because of the nature of the event.
CBCA Characteristics of the Statements
An ANOVA test was conducted to assess the effects of the type
of statement on the number of times each CBCA criterion was
present in each report. As multiple comparisons were conducted,
the significance level was adjusted with a Bonferroni adjustment
to .003. Table 2 shows only “quantity of details” was significant in
determining truth. The remaining 16 criteria (some of which rarely
occurred) produced no significant differences.
Big Data Analysis of Characteristic Features of Statements
Big data techniques aim towards complex data exploration and
analysis. High-Dimensional Visualization (HDV) graphs facilitate the
visualization of complex data. This technique displays all the data at
once, enabling researchers to graphically explore in search of data
distribution patterns (for more information see Manzanero, Alemany,
Recio, Vallet, & Aróztegui, 2015; Manzanero, El-Astal, & Aróztegui,
2009; Vallet, Manzanero, Aróztegui, & García-Zurdo, 2017). The graphs
are similar to scatter plots. The different variables corresponding to
a subject’s responses on questionnaire items are represented as a
point in a high-dimensional space (17 values or dimensions in this
study). When there are more than three variables, as in this study,
mathematical dimensionality reduction techniques are used to build
a 3D graph (Buja et al., 2008; Cox & Cox, 2001). Each point in the
hyperspace has a distance to each of the other points. Multidimensional
scaling will search 3D points, preserving the distances between points
as much as possible (Barton & Valdés, 2008). Sammon’s error (Barton
& Valdés, 2008) is used to calculate the 3D transformation error.
3D points are represented using Virtual Reality Modelling Language
(VRML). VRML files allow graphical rotation and exploration to
facilitate graphical data analysis. 3D graphs permit visual exploration
of the data in search of its distribution patterns.
Figure 1 represents all criteria, regardless of whether their
discriminating values were statistically significant. The quality of
A. L. Manzanero et al. / Anuario de Psicología Jurídica (2019) 29 55-60
the dimensionality reduction through multidimensional scaling
(Buja et al., 2008) was very good, with a small Sammon’s error of
.03. The dotted line graphically dividing true statements from false
statements shows correct classification of 81.25 percent (simulated
statements were classified as being true 29.42%).
A possible explanation for several of the CBCA criteria not
discriminating could stem from the variability among participants. As
can be seen in Figure 1, the cloud of dots that graphically represents
each type of statement is very dispersed and overlapped.
Figure 1. HDV Graph of Content Criteria in True (Light) and False (Dark)
Statements, Including all CBCA Criteria.
. Sammon´s error = .030; correct classification = 81.25%.
Intuitive Credibility Assessment
Considering the 197 evaluations of the true- and the 256
evaluations of the false videos, discriminability accuracy (hits, false
alarms, omissions, and correct rejections), discriminability index (d’),
and response criterion (c) as specified by Signal Detection Theory
(MacMillan & Kaplan, 1985; Tanner & Swets, 1954) were measured.
Analysis of the credibility assessments based on lay participants’
natural ability found above chance accuracy for the discriminability
index (d’) was .626 (
= .121),
d = 5.159,
< .05.
The response criterion (c) reached a score of .086 (
= .061),
c = 1.412,
The subjects had a neutral response criterion (scores
equal to 0 indicate a neutral criterion, greater than 0 a conservative
criterion, and less than 0 a liberal criterion). The proportion of
statements correctly classified was 61.81 percent (see Table 3), with
65.48% of false statements being correctly assessed and 58.98% of the
true ones.
Table 3. Intuitive Responses for Each Type of Statement
Statement Type
False True
Assessment False CR: 129 (65.48%) O: 105 (41.02%)
True FA: 68 (34.52%) H: 151 (58.98%)
197 (100%) 256 (100%)
CR = correct rejection; O = omission; FA = false alarm; H = hit.
Depending on the number of times a story was considered true
or false by the intuitive judges, the probability of “truthfulness” was
established (number of times considered true / number of evaluations
made for that testimony). The average probability of truthfulness
assigned to the false testimonies was 36.37 (
= 31.64), while that
assigned to the true ones was 64.00 (
= 23.93),
(1, 28) = 6.750,
< .05, η2 = .200.
The levels of disabilities of the persons with ID could be one of the
indicators on which the evaluators based their intuitive assessments.
However, no significant effects were found when participants’ IQ
was analysed based on how their statements had been classified,
considering the four possible types of response (H, FA, O, and CR),
26) = 0.498,
, η2 = .056. As can be seen in Table 4, IQ means were
similar for all groups.
Table 4. IQ Means and Standard Deviations of the Subjects according to the
Type of Response Issued by the Evaluators
Hits 63.00 10.39
False alarms 59.80 6.42
Omissions 58.00 10.23
Correct rejections 58.09 9.74
Tota l 59.90 9.31
Relationship between CBCA Criteria
and Intuitive Credibility Assessment
The Pearson correlation (bilateral) between the degree of
presence of each CBCA criteria in the testimonies and the probability
of truthfulness indicates that the evaluators’ natural ability may have
been mediated by the following criteria: “structured production”,
Table 2. Means, Standard Deviations, and ANOVA Values for Each Dependent Variable
False Statement
= 17
True Statement
= 15
(1, 30)
Logical structure 5.67 2.74 6.86 2.32 1.726 .199 .054
Unstructured production 6.11 2.54 5.46 2.82 0.470 .498 .015
Quantity of details * 7.3 5 3.60 13.93 4.74 19.800 .000 .398
Contextual embedding 2.52 1.06 3.93 1.90 6.812 .014 .185
Interactions 1.23 1.9 8 1.53 2.26 0.158 .694 .005
Conversations 0.41 0.50 1.40 1.59 5.878 .022 .16 4
Unexpected complications 0.47 0.79 0.40 0.50 0.086 .771 .003
Unusual details 0.58 0.79 0.80 0.86 0.523 .475 .017
Superfluous details 0.00 0.00 0.40 0.82 3.984 .055 .117
Details misunderstood 0.23 0.56 0.00 0.00 2.616 .116 .080
External associations 0.05 0.24 0.13 0.35 0.496 .487 .016
Subjective mental state 0.88 0.99 1. 00 1.25 0.088 .769 .003
Other’s mental state 1.47 1.28 1.13 1.50 0.469 .499 .015
Corrections 0.17 0.39 0.13 0.35 0.106 . 747 .004
Lack of memory 2.38 3.47 2.16 3.08 0.034 .855 .001
Doubts 0.29 0.58 0.50 0.62 0.919 .345 .030
Characteristic details 1.88 1.45 2.13 1.18 0.281 .600 .009
< .003 (Bonferroni adjustment for pairwise comparisons).
CBCA in Victims with Intellectual Disability
(29) = .546,
< .01; “quantity of details”,
(29) = .618,
< .01;
“unexpected complications”,
(29) = .526,
< .01; and “characteristic
(29) = .437,
< .05. No significant correlations were found
for the remaining 13 criteria (see Table 5). The greater presence of
these criteria would imply greater intuitive truthfulness.
Table 5. Pearson Correlations between Content Criteria and Intuitive
Assessments of “True”
Pearson Correlation
= 29)
Logical structure** .546 .002
Unstructured production -.346 .066
Quantity of details** .618 .000
Contextual embedding .238 .214
Interactions -.013 .946
Conversations .111 .567
Unexpected complications** .526 .003
Unusual details .347 .065
Superfluous details .150 .436
Details misunderstood - .149 .441
External associations .166 .389
Subjective mental state .014 .944
Other’s mental state .098 .614
Corrections -.12 4 .522
Lack of memory .024 .902
Doubts .039 .839
Characteristic details* .437 .018
< .05 (bilateral); **
< .01 (bilateral).
In line with many other studies (not involving truth tellers/liars
with ID), the lay participants could not discriminate between false
and true stories at a level to be considered useful in a forensic context
(Rassin, 1999), this being one of the reasons why CBCA was developed.
The CBCA technique did indeed discriminate at a better level. However,
of the 19 criteria, only one (“quantity of details”) was found significant.
This criterion, which is present in some lies, also deemed “richness in
detail”, has also been identified as potential biases which may lead
to incorrect veracity judgements (Nahari & Vrij, 2015). “Quantity of
details” was found in the present study to be significant for people
who have ID, even though when truly narrating an event, they tend to
give fewer details than the general population (Dent, 1986; Kebbell &
Wagstaff, 1997; Perlman, Ericson, Esses, & Isaacs, 1994).
ID is a component of certain syndromes that have associated
deficits in language development and articulation. This might explain
why several of the CBCA criteria were rarely present in the current
study. In Down’s Syndrome, for example—the most common genetic
syndrome with an ID component—language disorders are one of the
effects. In spontaneous conversation, the speech of people with ID
is less intelligible, and they have more difficulty with grammatical
structuring (Rice, Warren, & Betz, 2005)—in fact, their problems with
sentence structuring are similar to those of individuals diagnosed
with language development disorder (Laws & Bishop, 2003).
Thus, if the criteria that help us to determine the true statements
of people with ID indeed is “quantity of details”, what could happen if
their true accounts are compared with true accounts from the general
population? For those with ID who have reduced vocabulary, semantic,
and autobiographical memory deficits (rendering them unable to detail
the event), we could run the risk that such people will suffer an erroneous
judgment of their credibility, and thus, revictimisation could result.
However, since the natural ability evaluators were capable of
discriminating between true and false statements at only 12% above-
chance accuracy, a procedure that achieves better accuracy is needed.
If we were to extrapolate such natural ability data to a law enforcement
setting, for example, we could predict that the testimonies of people
with ID would be correctly assessed in only 60 percent of cases,
resulting in many true accounts not being believed. This percentage is
not far from what the police (and others) usually reach when judging
the statements of people with standard development (Manzanero,
Quintana, & Contreras, 2015).
To analyse what the possible basis is for intuitively assessing the
testimonies of people with ID—which, in turn, is going to determine
the credibility assessments granted in forensic and legal settings—we
correlated the probability of a “true” assessment with the IQ and the
CBCA content criteria. As in the study by Henry et al. (2011), the results
showed that IQ did not account for the lay evaluators’ decisions. In
relation to the different CBCA criteria, only four criteria appear to
mediate intuitive truthfulness (structured production, quantity of
details, unexpected complications, and characteristic details).
On the other hand, big data analysis reached a better classification
score. It must be taken into account that, surprisingly, these results
were obtained after considering all CBCA variables, not only the ones
yielding significant differences, although, initially, it was expected
that the variable showing significant differences should lead to
a better classification in comparison with the rest. Because that
was not the case, it seems that useful information is held by those
other variables not showing significant differences and the big data
technique is able to profit from it, providing better classification
quality. This approach could maybe allow to find, in a near future, an
improved way of distinguishing true and false statements.
Conflict of Interest
The authors of this article declare no conflict of interest.
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There are numerous stereotypes regarding the ability of victims with intellectual disabilities to report criminal acts and to describe their perpetrators. In this regard, the present study has aimed to analyze the stability of memory of a stressful event (medical examination within a hospital setting) over time in young people (Mage = 15.11 years old, SD = 3.05) with mild or moderate intellectual disability (IQ= 54.32, SD = 13.47). The results show a stability of the memory of what happened an hour and a week after the event in relation to the people involved, the apparatus used and the parts of the body explored. No interaction effects were found between the stability of memory over time and the level of intellectual disability. The level of disability (mild or moderate) only affected the description of the doctor who performed the exploration and the explored parts of the body, showing better results for people with mild disability. In addition, the results highlight the relationship between memory and IQ, especially verbal.
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The objective of this study was to explore age-related differences in the phenomenal characteristics of long-term memories of the terrorist attacks that took place in Madrid (Spain) on March 11, 2004. One hundred and ninety-six individuals participated in this experiment: 92 with an average age of 9.60 years and 104 with an average age of 39.41 years at the time of the event. To evaluate their real memories of the event twelve years later, Phenomenological Questionnaire on Autobiographical Memory was used. Differences were shown between the two groups in terms of memory quality, emotions associated with the event, and accessibility of the information remembered. Results were also represented using high-dimensional visualization (HDV) graphs, supporting the assertion that long-term event memories have different characteristics depending on the age of the individual at the time the event took place. Memories for adult people meet the criteria to be considered flashbulb memories, while in the case of the younger ones, this kind of memory does not seem to be generated. Young people are probably less capable of evaluating the consequences of an event, which results in reduced emotional arousal and a different elaboration of the event memory in comparison to older adults.
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Within the scope of judicial decisions, approaches to distinguish between true and fabricated statements have been of particular importance since ancient times. Although methods focusing on “prototypical” deceptive behavior (e.g., psychophysiological phenomena, nonverbal cues) have largely been rejected with regard to validity, content-based techniques constitute a promising approach and are well established within the applied forensic context. The basic idea of this approach is that experience-based and non-experience-based statements differ in their content-related quality. In order to test the validity of the most prominent content-based techniques, Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) and Reality Monitoring (RM), we conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis on English- and German-language studies. Based on a variety of decision criteria, 56 studies were included revealing an overall effect size of g = 1.03 (95% CI [0.78, 1.27], Q = 420.06, p < .001, I² = 92.48%, N = 3429). There was no significant difference in the effectiveness of CBCA and RM. Additionally, we investigated a number of moderator variables such as characteristics of participants, statements, and judgment procedures, as well as general study characteristics. Results showed that the application of all CBCA criteria outperformed any incomplete CBCA criteria set. Furthermore, statement classification based on discriminant functions revealed higher discrimination rates than decisions based on sum scores. Finally, unpublished studies showed higher effect sizes than studies published in peer-reviewed journals. All results are discussed in terms of their significance for future research (e.g., developing standardized decision rules) and practical application (e.g., user training, applying complete criteria set).
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Under the holistic approach to the assessment of testimony (HELPT), this paper describes a protocol for the analysis of all of the information that can be extracted from a judicial file, regarding the knowledge of heuristic principles and psychology of testimony. The aim is to provide systematisation for expert reports about the topics that could be explored in a file, extracting the maximum unbiased information to establish the relevant hypotheses of the case and evaluate possible factors of influence.
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The strategic use of evidence in interviews with suspects has been shown to increase the ability of interviewers to accurately and consistently distinguish truthful from deceptive accounts. The present study considers the effect of early and gradual revelation of evidence by the interviewer, and the effect of shorter and longer delay on the verbal quality of truth-teller and liar statements within a mock crime paradigm. It was hypothesised that gradual disclosure of evidence (1) in terms of inconsistencies (a) within statements and (b) between statements and such evidence and (2) of the criteria of Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) and of Reality Monitoring (RM) would emphasise differences in the verbal quality of truth-teller and liar statements. Forty-two high school students took part in the study. The use of statement-evidence and within-statement inconsistency appears to be a robust cue to deception across interview style and delay. This indicates that gradual disclosure in interviews may increase interviewer accuracy in veracity decisions by eliciting statement inconsistencies. However, gradual revelation and delay affected the ability of CBCA and RM criteria to distinguish the veracity of suspect statements.
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El presente trabajo analiza la aplicabilidad y limitaciones de uno de los procedimientos más empleado para analizar la credibilidad de un testimonio, el SVA. El punto de partida para su correcta aplicación es una consideración exhaustiva de las posibles fuentes que pudieran dar origen a una declaración, siguiendo el método de falsación de hipótesis. Se describen los principales errores en su utilización y se clarifican los métodos indicados para las diferentes hipótesis a ser analizadas, contemplando tanto la pertinencia de cada procedimiento, como sus limitaciones. Se concluye los peligros de una incorrecta o incompleta aplicación del SVA, al margen del planteamiento de hipótesis y la técnica recomendada para su valoración, como a su vez el riesgo de sobregeneralizar el uso de los análisis de contenido (CBCA).
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This study aimed to determine the extent to which Reality Monitoring content analysis can provide useful information when discriminating between actual versus false statements. Participants were instructed to either describe a traffic accident as eyewitness actual role or to describe the accident as a simulated victim. Data were analysed in terms of accuracy and quality, and were represented using high dimensional visualization (HDV). In Experiment 1 (between-participant design), participants made significantly more references to cognitive operations, more self-references and less changes in order when describing the event as simulated victim. In Experiment 2 (within-participants design) participants also made significantly more references to cognitive operations and more self references when describing the event from the simulated victim as well as being less accurate, providing less irrelevant information and more evaluative comments. HDV graphics indicated that false statements differ holistically from actual ones.
The current paper describes potential systematic errors (or biases) that may appear while applying content-based lie detection tools, by focusing on richness in detail – a core indicator in verbal tools – as a test case. Two categories of biases are discussed: those related to the interviewees (i.e., interviewees with different characteristics differ in the number of details they provide when lying or telling the truth) and those related to the tool expert (i.e., tool experts with different characteristics differ in the way they perceive and interpret verbal cues). We suggested several ways to reduce the influence of these biases, and emphasized the need for future studies in this matter.