Delayed criminal cases are prevalent in Canada, but how these delayed reports are perceived has not yet been investigated. The present study examined perceptions of delayed and inconsistent reports of autobiographical memory. Participants viewed a witness making a statement that was either consistent or inconsistent with a previous report about a crime that took place 1-day, 2-years, or 15-years ago. Participants were asked to rate the witness’ credibility, make verdict decisions, and recommend a sentence length. Participants found an inconsistent witness to be less cognitively competent, honest, and more suggestible. Perceived credibility was not impacted by delay but verdict decisions were. This finding may have implications for the justice system if triers of fact do not consider the possibility that witnesses testifying after a long delay may recall fewer, and potentially different, details, and that inconsistencies across repeated interviews may not always be indicative of a completely inaccurate report.
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Thesis advisor: Connolly, Deborah
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