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The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

On-line version ISSN 1989-4007Print version ISSN 1889-1861

Abstract

AMADO, Bárbara G.; ARCE, Ramón  and  FARINA, Francisca. Undeutsch hypothesis and Criteria Based Content Analysis: a meta-analytic review. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context [online]. 2015, vol.7, n.1, pp.3-12. ISSN 1989-4007.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpal.2014.11.002.

The credibility of a testimony is a crucial component of judicial decision-making. Checklists of testimony credibility criteria are extensively used by forensic psychologists to assess the credibility of a testimony, and in many countries they are admitted as valid scientific evidence in a court of law. These checklists are based on the Undeutsch hypothesis asserting that statements derived from the memory of real-life experiences differ significantly in content and quality from fabricated or fictitious accounts. Notwithstanding, there is considerable controversy regarding the degree to which these checklists comply with the legal standards for scientific evidence to be admitted in a court of law (e.g., Daubert standards). In several countries, these checklists are not admitted as valid evidence in court, particularly in view of the inconsistent results reported in the scientific literature. Bearing in mind these issues, a meta-analysis was designed to test the Undeutsch hypothesis using the CBCA Checklist of criteria to discern between memories of self-experienced real-life events and fabricated or fictitious accounts. As the original hypothesis was formulated for populations of children, only quantitative studies with samples of children were considered for this study. In line with the Undeutsch hypothesis, the results showed a significant positive effect size that is generalizable to the total CBCA score, δ = 0.79. Moreover, a significant positive effect size was observed in each and all of the credibility criteria. In conclusion, the results corroborated the validity of the Undeutsch hypothesis and the CBCA criteria for discriminating between the memory of real self-experienced events and false or invented accounts. The results are discussed in terms of the implications for forensic practice.

Keywords : Meta-analysis; CBCA; Credibility; Testimony; Sexual abuse; Child.

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