3:00 pm, Friday, April 29th in Hauser Hall 029 Children’s Eyewitness Identification as Moral Decision-Making Herbert Saltzstein, CUNY Graduate Center Toni Spring, Queens College, CUNY When an eyewitness identifies a suspect, he or she is making a moral decision in that the eyewitness might be (a) convicting an innocent person [a false positive] or (b) letting a guilty person go free [a false negative]. Since children’s and adolescents’ ideas about what makes something morally right or wrong and about the purposes of punishment change with age, a moral developmental framework might help explain how children and adolescents perform on eyewitness identification tasks. For example, how does the framing or description of the same act, e.g., as either an unintended act which results in great damage or a malevolently intended act which results in little damage, affect eyewitness identification (especially the pattern of false positives and false negatives)? Our findings feature the following: 1) when asked in a child-friendly way which kind of errors are worse, a false positive error is judged worse as the child gets older, 2) using signal detection analysis, the decisional criterion gets stricter [indicating fewer false positives] with age, and 3) the effect of the framing of the act interacts with the age of the child.
Dr. Herbert D. Saltzstein was born in Brooklyn and earned a doctorate in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan, where he worked at the Research Center for Group Dynamics, founded by students of Kurt Lewin. Dr. Saltzstein has taught at MIT, Sarah Lawrence College, Lehman College (CUNY) and since 1981 at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research interests include: a) children’s and adults’ moral decision-making, especially their eyewitness and cross-race identification, b) children’s and adults’ beliefs in collective punishment in the U.S. and Japan, c) parent-child relations, including children’s judgments of the fairness of parents, and d) moral suggestibility.
Dr. Toni Spring was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and earned a Ph.D. in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Spring has taught at Queens College (CUNY) since 2002 and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in both the Secondary and Elementary Education departments. Her research interests include: a) children’s and adults’ moral decision-making, especially the developmental changes in eyewitness identification, b) children’s and adults’ beliefs in collective punishment in the U.S., Brazil, and Japan, and c) teachers’ and children’s judgment of fairness and efficacy in the classroom.
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