Forensic analysis of the content of the statement

Forensic analysis of the content of the statement

Experimental Forensic Psychology has psychological procedures that allow you to assess both the accuracy or reliability of testimony and credibility. In this case, we will see the forensic analysis of statement content.

Forensic analysis of the content of the statement

1. Control of the reality of memories

The kind of Reality Control (Johnson and Raye, 1981) was proposed as a form of explain the processes that allow differentiate between memories:

  • Those that have an external (perceptual) origin
  • And the memories that have an internal origin (imagined)

It is a method of analysis of statements based on the differentiation between perceived reality and imagined reality.

The idea is that the perceived memories differ quantitatively and qualitatively in a series of criteria of the memories that we have only imagined

So, Memories resulting from perception include more contextual information (spatial and temporal) and more sensory details, while imagined memories result from mental processes. Therefore, they include more information on internal states.

These differences have led to the possibility of a possible parallelism between truly perceived memories and truth and memories resulting from imagination and lies.

What does experimentation say about controlling the reality of memories?

If this parallelism is possible, true statements would contain more contextual information and more sensory details that the intentionally false ones that would contain more information alluding to internal states.

It has been proven that this parallelism exists. The following results have been obtained in experimental studies:

  • True stories contain more contextual information and more details. sensory than fake
  • While false accounts do not always contain more information regarding mental processes and internal states

Therefore, this technique or procedure cannot yet be considered as a system of false statement detection.

Nevertheless, if it serves as a method to detect possible approaches to truth and reality. However, more experimentation is still needed to be able to discriminate more strongly from the continuous truth-lie in the stories.

2. Analysis of the reality of the statement

The Declaration Analysis is a deeply rooted technique in Germany. It has been used in the evaluation of the statements of children in cases of sexual abuse. Further, It has some points in common with the Reality Control proposal. Therefore, it is one of the most used declaration analysis techniques.

The issue of sexual abuse raises important problems from the forensic point of view. In fact, when the child declares to have suffered a sexual assault there is not always evidence of what happened.

The fact that the sex offender is quite often a known person in the child's environment implies that he or she takes special precautions so that the child keeps the fact secret and so that there is no more evidence than the child's statement.

This makes many times only have the child's statement who is subjected to all kinds of questions from every imaginable instance. For example: family, psychologists, doctors, social workers, police, judges ...

It's easy to see the risk that the accuracy of the memory runs with all these interrogations, not to mention the anxiety and fear they cause in the child. The child may even have to face the alleged aggressor in the oral trial, as well as the questions of the defense lawyer.

In summary, whether or not the sexual abuse is true, the consequences of such a complaint can be very hard for the child

Obtain objective criteria for the forensic analysis of the content of the declaration

Consideration of these consequences has led to an effort to find objective criteria that help evaluate statements of children, and so make successive repetitions unnecessary.

In this line is the technique of Analysis of the Declaration's reality (Steller, 1989; Undeutsch, 1989; Wegener, 1989). The reasoning that follows the technique is that if an event has actually occurred, your memory story will be different of the story that could result if the child had invented the facts.

The reasoning is valid to the extent that much of the Details of the reported event must be unknown, or poorly known, to a child That has not had that sexual experience.


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  • Köhnken, G., Manzanero, A. L., & Scott, M. T. (2015). Analysis of the validity of statements: myths and limitations.Yearbook of legal psychology25(1), 13-19.
  • Soria Verde, M. (2005). Manual of legal psychology and criminal investigation.Madrid: Pyramid Editions.