Child's play: Anatomically correct dolls and embodiment

Human Studies 30 (3):255 - 267 (2007)
Anatomically detailed dolls have been used to elicit testimony from children in sex abuse cases. However, studies have shown they often provide false accounts in young, preschool-age children. Typically this problem is seen as a cognitive one: with age, children can correctly map their bodies onto a doll due to greater intellectual ability to represent themselves. I argue, along with the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, that although cognitive developments aid in the ability to represent one’s own body, a discussion of embodiment is required in order to understand the use and abuse of anatomical dolls in forensic interviews. This paper examines these issues and maintains that a better understanding of embodied perception in both adults and children helps show how phenomenology can provide a more nuanced understanding to a troubling ethical and legal problem.
Keywords Anatomical dolls  Change blindness  Child psychology  Embodiment  Ecological psychology  Forensic interviews  Merleau-Ponty  Representation
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Jean Piaget & Marjorie Warden (1928). Judgment and Reasoning in the Child. K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd Harcourt, Brace and Company.

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