Psychology student earns grant to study children’s eyewitness testimonies
Psychology student earns grant to study children’s eyewitness testimonies

Tori DickensheetsMarch 25, 2022 – Tori Dickensheets, a graduate student in psychology, has been awarded a competitive grant from the American-Psychology Law Society (AP-LS) to fund a research study. In addition to the grant funding, Dickensheets has also received an award from the same organization, for “Outstanding Student Presentation in Legal Research Award.”

Both the grant and the award are highly competitive and sought-after. Dickensheets, who is slated to graduate in 2023 and is planning to continue at UTSA for the PhD program, is a researcher in Assistant Professor Monica Lawson’s research lab, Growing Resilient Outcomes Within the Home (GROWTH).

Dickensheet’s project, “Source Monitoring and Destination Memory for Emotional Content Among Maltreated and Non-Maltreated Children,” received a $1,500 grant from AP-LS to further gather data and continue researching.

“Source memory is being able to know where a memory came from, and destination memory is being able to know who you told information to,” Dickensheets explained. “We don’t know if the experience of maltreatment impacts source and destination memory abilities, so that’s what we’re looking at in this project.”

In the same vein, Dickensheets earned an award for a different presentation within the same field of research. Last week, she and Lawson presented their research on parent-child conversations for positive and negative events.

Tori Dickensheets“We had parents and their children watch two negative videos and two positive videos, and asked parents to discuss them with their children,” Dickensheets said. “Then we looked at parental questioning strategies and children’s accuracy for these events.”

Dickensheets hopes to use this research to improve children’s eyewitness testimony and to pinpoint where it might go awry – particularly in a forensic context. However, there are other aspects to consider as well.

“When parents and children talk about past events, it can impact children’s emotional regulation abilities,” Dickensheets said. “There are certain trainings for parents that we found that can be effective to improve that regulation.”

The project will continue this summer with a new wave of data collection.

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