This study examined whether maltreated children are capable of judging the location and order of significant events with respect to a recurring landmark event. 167 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 “before or after” their birthday. Children showed some understanding that the target event was “near” and “before” their birthday when their birthday was less than three months hence, but were relatively insensitive to preceding birthdays. Hence, children exhibited a prospective bias, preferentially answering with reference to a forthcoming birthday rather than a past birthday. The results demonstrate that the recurring nature of some landmark events make questions about them referentially ambiguous and children’s answers subject to misinterpretation.
Child Psychology | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Developmental Psychology | Evidence | Family Law | Juvenile Law | Law | Law and Psychology
Date of this Version
Kelly McWilliams, Thomas D. Lyon, and J A. Quas, "Maltreated Children's Ability to Make Temporal Judgments Using a Recurring Landmark Event" (January 2019). University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series. Working Paper 206.