Children’s Memory Research Group
 
In this website you will find a summary of the key areas of my current research, as well as some representative publications. These four key research areas include:
 
(1) Children’s Suggestibility for an Instance of a Repeated Event
o The section provides a description of my research on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of children’s memory reports of repeated events.
(2) Children’s Perceived Credibility
o This section provides an examination of how jury eligible persons evaluate children’s memory reports of repeated events.
(3) Historic Child Sexual Abuse
o This section provides a description of the legal and psychological implications of children’s failure to disclose abuse in a timely fashion.
(4) Memory for Repeated Events
o This is a new branch of research that I am currently developing, wherein my students and I are studying how individual instances of a repeated event are remembered and reported.
 
 
Children’s Suggestibility for an Instance of a Repeated Event
There has been a great deal of research on the malleability of memory in general and, in particular, the extent to which children will report that details they were only told about really had happened. Until relatively recently, virtually all such research was based on children’s reports of a unique event. There had been very little direct research on the effect of suggestions on children's reports of an instance of a repeated event. This is particularly striking because many children who are witnesses/victims in criminal court allege repeated abuse. Some principles of suggestibility that were developed based on children’s reports of a unique event do not apply to children’s reports of an instance of a repeated event.
 
Connolly, D. A. & Price, H. L. (2006). Children’s suggestibility for an instance of a repeated event versus a unique event: The effect of degree of association between variable options. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93, 207-233.
Price, H. L., & Connolly, D. A. (2004). Event frequency and children’s suggestibility: A study of cued recall responses. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18, 809-821.
Connolly, D. A., & Lindsay, D. S. (2001). The influence of suggestions on children's reports of a unique experience versus an instance of a repeated experience. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15, 205 – 223.
 
 
Children’s Perceived Credibility
Often, when children enter the criminal justice system, they do so as alleged victims of repeated abuse and will be required to report an instance or a subset of instances of the alleged abuse. In cases involving children there is often no evidence other than the report of the child and the denial of the accused. Accordingly, perceived credibility is determinative. Notably, children report unique events differently than they report instances of repeated events. Moreover, particular report characteristics have been shown to influence judgments of children’s credibility. My current research in this area is the study of report characteristics, particularly differences in report consistency,  that could explain differences in perceived credibility as a function of event frequency.
 
Connolly, D.A., Gagnon, N., & Lavoie, J. A. (2008). The effect of a judicial declaration of competence on the perceived credibility of children and defendants. Legal and Criminological Psychology. 13, 257-277.
Connolly, D. A., Price, H. L., Lavoie, J. A., & Gordon, H. M. (2008). Perceptions and predictors of children’s credibility of a unique event and an instance of a repeated event. Law and Human Behavior, 32, 92-112.
 
 
Memory for Repeated Events
When witnesses allege repeated abuse, they are often asked to recall details of an instance of the repeated abuse. How do children remember instances of repeated events? Are the first and last instances remembered better than middle instances? What if one instance is different in some way? And, can we apply principles developed in the lab to real-life instances of abuse. These are a few of the questions my students and I are studying.
 
Price, H. L., & Connolly, D. A. (2008). The influence of emotional arousal and repetition of experience on children’s recall: A preliminary discussion of their interactive importance. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 31, 337-346.
Price, H. L., & Connolly, D. A. (2007). Anxious and non-anxious children’s recall of a repeated or unique event. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 98, 94-112.
Price, H. L, Connolly, D. A., & Gordon, H, M. (2006) Children’s recall of an instance of a repeated event: Does spacing of instances matter? Memory, 14, 977-989.
 
 
Historic Child Sexual Abuse
Delayed reporting of child sexual abuse is far more common than was once thought. Indeed, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of children who were sexually abused delay reporting the abuse for more than a year and up to one-third do not disclose the abuse until adulthood. There are myriad complex social, psychological, and legal consequences of such a long delay. We reviewed over 2000 delayed criminal complaints of child sexual abuse and analyzed them from the perspectives of legal reform, public policy, and psychological research.
 
Connolly, D. A., Price, H. L., & Gordon, H. M. (2009). Judging the credibility of historic child sexual abuse complainants: How judges describe their decisions. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 15, 102-123.
Connolly, D. A. & Read, J. D. (2007). Canadian Criminal Court reports of historic child sexual abuse: Factors associated with delayed prosecution and reported repression. In M. E. Pipe, M. E. Lamb, Y. Orbach, & A-C Cederborg (Eds.), Disclosing Abuse: Delays, Denials, Retractions and Incomplete Accounts (pp. 195-217). NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Read, J. D., & Connolly, D. A. (2007). The effects of delay on long-term memory for witnessed events. In M. P. Toglia, J. D. Read, D. F. Ross, & R. C. L. Lindsay (Eds.), Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology: Volume 1: Memory for Events (pp. 117-155). Mahway NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Connolly, D.A., Price, H. L., & Read, J.D. (2006). Predicting expert testimony in criminal prosecutions of historic child sexual abuse. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 11, 55-74.
Read, J. D., Connolly, D. A. & Welsh, A. (2006). Archival analysis of actual cases of HCSA: A comparison of jury and bench trials. Law and Human Behavior, 30, 259-285.
Connolly, D.A., & Read, J.D. (2006). Delayed prosecutions of historic child sexual abuse: Analyses of 2064 Canadian criminal complaints. Law and Human Behavior, 30, 409-434.
Connolly, D. A. & Read, J.D. (2003). Remembering historical child sexual abuse. Criminal Law Quarterly, 47, 438 – 480.