An archival analysis of sexual assault victims' age estimation accuracy when describing stranger offenders

Thorley, Craig, Almond, Louise, Gregory, Adam, McAlonan, Vanessa, and McLoughlin, Amy (2018) An archival analysis of sexual assault victims' age estimation accuracy when describing stranger offenders. Psychology, Crime & Law, 24 (10). pp. 1030-10449.

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Abstract

Approximately 10% of all serious sexual assaults in England and Wales involve victims and offenders who are strangers. The victims often estimate the stranger offender's age during police interviews. These age estimations, if accurate, can help identify offenders. This archival analysis examined the accuracy of 546 stranger sexual assault victims' age estimations. It also examined whether their accuracy can be predicted by victim age - offender age differences, victim age - offender estimated age differences, victim race - offender race differences, victim intoxication, victims' duration of exposure to offenders, the time delay between assaults and age estimations, whether offenders have weapons, and whether offenders use sighting precautions. Amongst the descriptive findings, we found victims' mean age estimation error was 4.78 years, the degree of over- and underestimation was equivalent, that only 12.5% of age estimations were within 0.99 years of an offender's true age, but 90% were within 9.99 years of an offender's true age. Only victim age - offender age differences and, importantly, victim age - offender estimated age differences predicted age estimation accuracy: as age differences decreased, accuracy increased. These findings can help predict stranger sexual assault victims' age estimation accuracy in future cases.

Item ID: 54682
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-2744
Keywords: sexual assault, rape, age estimation, own-age bias, memory
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2018 02:38
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170104 Forensic Psychology @ 75%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1799 Other Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 25%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940404 Law Enforcement @ 75%
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