Date of Award

Spring 6-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor

Kelly McWilliams

Second Reader

Angela Crossman

Third Advisor

Sean Murphy



This study examined how adults interpret children’s relative temporal judgments about significant events. Previous research with children has shown that children have a “prospective bias,” when making relative temporal judgments. The impact of this bias within the context of eyewitness testimony is currently unknown, as no prior research has examined how adults interpret relative temporal judgments (i.e., are they also forward thinking). The present study examined this question. Adult participants were provided with mock attorney-child interactions during which a child witness (either 8 or 17 years old) gave relative temporal judgments (i.e., near, before, after) to establish a timeline of when key events in the case occurred. Using the child’s testimony participants gave an approximate timeframe of when they thought each key event happened. Overall, results do not suggest that adults have a prospective bias. Adults interpreted children’s responses to indicate judgments in both backwards and forwards direction. Additionally, the findings suggest that adults have varying interpretations of the length of time indicated by the terms before, after and near. Participants in the near condition provided smaller timeframes than those in the before condition, and that the timeframes in the after condition did not differ significantly from the other two conditions. Finally, results revealed that jurors do not seem to think relative temporal judgments are influenced by age, as the age of the child did not significantly influence the length of the timeframe provided by the participants. The present findings provide important insight regarding how adults interpret children’s temporal testimony. Future research should examine the extent to which this discrepancy impacts overall assessments of children’s credibility.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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