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Associate Professor Rachel Zajac

Rachel Zajac

Email rachelz@psy.otago.ac.nz
Tel 64 3 479 3988

Dr Rachel Zajac has been the sole PI on two Marsden Grants, and is also funded by FRST. She is a regular reviewer for law, psychology and policing journals, national and international funding bodies (e.g., National Science Foundation), and she serves on the Editorial Board of Applied Cognitive Psychology. She is frequently called on to advise New Zealand social workers, legal practitioners and policy makers on methods to interview children and adults. She is the Associate Director of the Innocence Project New Zealand, and is closely involved with the New Zealand Police, where she contributes to benchmarking practice, procedural review and training.

Her research has been used in police and judicial education programmes in the United Kingdom and Australia, and in the US Supreme Court as scientific evidence. She was recently profiled for the Association for Psychological Science’s Observer magazine as one of their ‘International Rising Stars’.

Rachel was appointed as a faculty member in 2003, after completing a PhD and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology in the Department.

Teaching

Research Interests

  • Eyewitness evidence
  • Social influences on memory
  • Psychological factors in the interpretation of forensic evidence

Find out more about Associate Professor Zajac's research interests

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Publications

Zajac, R., Westera, N., & Kaladelfos, A. (2017). The "good old days" of courtroom questioning: Changes in the format of child cross-examination questions over 60 years. Child Maltreatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1077559517733815

Zajac, R., Westera, N., & Kaladelfos, A. (2017). A historical comparison of Australian lawyers' strategies for cross-examining child sexual abuse complainants. Child Abuse & Neglect, 72, 236-246. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.07.010

Zydervelt, S., Zajac, R., Kaladelfos, A., & Westera, N. (2017). Lawyers’ strategies for cross-examining rape complainants: Have we moved beyond the 1950s? British Journal of Criminology, 57(3), 551-569. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azw023

Westera, N., Zydervelt, S., Kaladelfos, A., & Zajac, R. (2017). Sexual assault complainants on the stand: A historical comparison of courtroom questioning. Psychology, Crime & Law, 23(1), 5-31. doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2016.1217334

Anderson, L., Gross, J., Sonne, T., Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2016). Where there's smoke, there's fire: The effect of truncated testimony on juror decision-making. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 34, 200-217. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2212

Chapter in Book - Research

Zajac, R. (2009). Investigative interviewing in the courtroom: Child witnesses under cross-examination. In R. Bull, T. Valentine & T. Williamson (Eds.), Handbook of psychology of investigative interviewing: Current developments and future directions. (pp. 161-180). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9780470747599.ch10

Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2009). Cross-examination: Impact on testimony. In A. Jamieson & A. Moenssens (Eds.), Wiley encyclopedia of forensic science. Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9780470061589.fsa471

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Journal - Research Article

Zajac, R., Westera, N., & Kaladelfos, A. (2017). The "good old days" of courtroom questioning: Changes in the format of child cross-examination questions over 60 years. Child Maltreatment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1077559517733815

Westera, N., Zydervelt, S., Kaladelfos, A., & Zajac, R. (2017). Sexual assault complainants on the stand: A historical comparison of courtroom questioning. Psychology, Crime & Law, 23(1), 5-31. doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2016.1217334

Zydervelt, S., Zajac, R., Kaladelfos, A., & Westera, N. (2017). Lawyers’ strategies for cross-examining rape complainants: Have we moved beyond the 1950s? British Journal of Criminology, 57(3), 551-569. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azw023

Zajac, R., Westera, N., & Kaladelfos, A. (2017). A historical comparison of Australian lawyers' strategies for cross-examining child sexual abuse complainants. Child Abuse & Neglect, 72, 236-246. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.07.010

Anderson, L., Gross, J., Sonne, T., Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2016). Where there's smoke, there's fire: The effect of truncated testimony on juror decision-making. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 34, 200-217. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2212

Zajac, R., Dickson, J., Munn, R., & O'Neill, S. (2016). Trussht me, I know what I sshaw: The acceptance of misinformation from an apparently unreliable co-witness. Legal & Criminological Psychology, 21(1), 127-140. doi: 10.1111/lcrp.12032

Jack, F., Friedman, W., Reese, E., & Zajac, R. (2016). Age-related differences in memory for time, temporal reconstruction, and the availability and use of temporal landmarks. Cognitive Development, 37, 53-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2015.12.003

Osborne, N. K. P., Taylor, M. C., Healey, M., & Zajac, R. (2016). Bloodstain pattern classification: Accuracy, effect of contextual information and the role of analyst characteristics. Science and Justice, 56, 123-128. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2015.12.005

Zajac, R., Irvine, B. L., & Ingram, J. M. (2016). The diagnostic value of children's responses to cross-examination questioning. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 34(1), 160-177. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2215

Osborne, N. K. P., & Zajac, R. (2016). An imperfect match? Crime-related context influences fingerprint decisions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30(1), 126-134. doi: 10.1002/acp.3180

Irvine, B., Jack, F., & Zajac, R. (2016). Preparing children for cross-examination: Do the practice questions matter? Psychology, Crime & Law, 22(9), 858-878. doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2016.1197224

Osborne, N. K. P., Taylor, M. C., & Zajac, R. (2016). Exploring the role of contextual information in bloodstain pattern analysis: A qualitative approach. Forensic Science International, 260, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.12.039

Zajac, R., & Jack, F. (2015). Improving children's performance on photographic line-ups: Do the physical properties of a ‘wildcard’ make a difference? Legal & Criminological Psychology, 21(2), 358-371. doi: 10.1111/lcrp.12075

Righarts, S., Jack, F., Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2015). Young children's responses to cross-examination style questioning: The effects of delay and subsequent questioning. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21(3), 274-296. doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2014.951650

Jack, F., Martyn, E., & Zajac, R. (2015). Getting the picture: Effects of sketch plans and photographs on children's, adolescents' and adults' eyewitness recall. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29(5), 723-734. doi: 10.1002/acp.3156

Jack, F., Zydervelt, S., & Zajac, R. (2014). Are co-witnesses special? Comparing the influence of co-witness and interviewer misinformation on eyewitness reports. Memory, 22(3), 243-255. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2013.778291

Osborne, N. K. P., Woods, S., Kieser, J., & Zajac, R. (2014). Does contextual information bias bitemark comparisons? Science and Justice, 54(4), 267-273. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2013.12.005

Jack, F., & Zajac, R. (2014). The effect of age and reminders on witnesses’ responses to cross-examination-style questioning. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 3(1), 1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.12.001

Jack, F., Leov, J., & Zajac, R. (2014). Age-related differences in the free-recall accounts of child, adolescent, and adult witnesses. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 28(1), 30-38. doi: 10.1002/acp.2951

O'Neill, S., & Zajac, R. (2013). The role of repeated interviewing in children's responses to cross-examination-style questioning. British Journal of Psychology, 104(1), 14-38. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02096.x

Righarts, S., O'Neill, S., & Zajac, R. (2013). Addressing the negative effect of cross-examination questioning on children's accuracy: Can we intervene? Law & Human Behavior, 37(5), 354-365. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000042

O'Neill, S., & Zajac, R. (2013). Preparing children for cross-examination: How does intervention timing influence efficacy? Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 19(3), 307-320. doi: 10.1037/a0031538

Zajac, R., Garry, M., London, K., Goodyear-Smith, F., & Hayne, H. (2013). Misconceptions about childhood sexual abuse and child witnesses: Implications for psychological experts in the courtroom. Memory, 21(5), 608-617. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2013.778287

Zajac, R., O'Neill, S., & Hayne, H. (2012). Disorder in the courtroom? Child witnesses under cross-examination. Developmental Review, 32(3), 181-204. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2012.06.006

Karageorge, A., & Zajac, R. (2011). Exploring the effects of age and delay on children's person identifications: Verbal descriptions, lineup performance, and the influence of wildcards. British Journal of Psychology, 102(2), 161-183. doi: 10.1348/000712610X507902

Zajac, R., & Cannan, P. (2009). Cross-examination of sexual assault complainants: A developmental comparison. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law, 16(Suppl. 1), S36-S54. doi: 10.1080/13218710802620448

Zajac, R., Jury, E., & O'Neill, S. (2009). The role of psychosocial factors in young children's responses to cross-examination style questioning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23(7), 918-935. doi: 10.1002/acp.1536

Zajac, R., & Karageorge, A. (2009). The wildcard: A simple technique for improving children's target-absent lineup performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23(3), 358-368. doi: 10.1002/acp.1511

Zajac, R., & Henderson, N. (2009). Don't it make my brown eyes blue: Co-witness misinformation about a target's appearance can impair target-absent line-up performance. Memory, 17(3), 266-278. doi: 10.1080/09658210802623950

Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2006). The negative effect of cross-examination style questioning on children's accuracy: Older children are not immune. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 3-16. doi: 10.1002/acp.1169

Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2003). I don't think that's what really happened: The effect of cross-examination on the accuracy of children's reports. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9(3), 187-195.

Zajac, R., Gross, J., & Hayne, H. (2003). Asked and answered: Questioning children in the courtroom. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law, 10(1), 199-209.

Zajac, R. (2001). Cross examination and the child witness. Childrenz Issues, 5(1), 33-38.

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2001). The effect of cross examination on the accuracy of children's reports. Society for Research in Child Development. Minneapolis, MN. [Full Paper]

Zajac, R., Gross, J., & Hayne, H. (2000). Courtroom questioning and children's testimony: Do the questions matter? American Psychology-Law Society. New Orleans, LA. [Full Paper]

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Wake, K., & Zajac, R. (2016). To report or not to report: Does the decision to report a crime affect memory? Proceedings of the Psycolloquy Seminar. (pp. 20). Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Psychology, University of Otago. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/research/otago059081.html

Westgate, S., Gallagher, E., Gross, J., Zajac, R., & Hayne, H. (2015). A trip down memory lane: Adults' recall of significant past events and the role of speculation. Proceedings of the Psycolloquy Seminar. (pp. 13). Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Psychology, University of Otago. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/research/otago059081.html

Wake, K., Cardwell, B., & Zajac, R. (2015). Does difficulty recalling childhood memories affect how we evaluate our childhood? Proceedings of the Psycolloquy Seminar. (pp. 21). Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Psychology, University of Otago. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/research/otago059081.html

Irvine, B., & Zajac, R. (2014). "Of course I lied, mum asked me to!" The effect of cross-examination on children's responses when they have been coached to lie. Proceedings of the Psycolloquy Seminar. (pp. 24). Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Psychology, University of Otago. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/research/otago059081.html

Morten, J. T. P., Jack, F. K., & Zajac, R. (2013). Explaining differences in eyewitness recall: The contributions of age, intelligence, and memory. Proceedings of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) 25th Annual Convention. Retrieved from http://aps.psychologicalscience.org/convention/program_2013/search/viewProgram.cfm?Abstract_ID=27452

Jack, F., & Zajac, R. (2012). The negative effect of cross-examination-style questioning on witnesses' accuracy decreases with age. Proceedings of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) Conference. (pp. 111). Retrieved from http://www.ap-ls.org/conferences/apls2012/index2012.php

Irvine, B., & Zajac, R. (2012). Preparing children for cross-examination: Can children generalise from practice questions to the real deal? Proceedings of the Psycolloquy Seminar. (pp. 15). Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/otago039512.pdf

Jack, F., Devlin, L., & Zajac, R. (2012). The effect of co-witness misinformation on children's, adolescent's and adult's recall of a witnessed event. Proceedings of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) Conference. (pp. 110). Retrieved from http://www.ap-ls.org/conferences/apls2012/index2012.php

Osborne, N. K. P., Woods, S. R., Kieser, J., & Zajac, R. (2012). Reality bites: The effect of contextual information on the interpretation of bitemark evidence. Proceedings of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) Conference. (pp. 36). Retrieved from http://www.ap-ls.org/conferences/apls2012/index2012.php

Jack, F., Leov, J., & Zajac, R. (2011). Adolescents' eyewitness abilities: Addressing a gap in the literature. Proceedings of the 4th International Congress on Psychology and Law and the American Psychology-Law Society Annual Meeting. Retrieved from http://convention3.allacademic.com/one/apls/apls11/index.php?click_key=1&cmd=Multi+Search+Search+Load+Publication&publication_id=483294&PHPSESSID=d460fa471dad9582e4a07c1f65aaec20

Jack, F., & Zajac, R. (2011). Simple versus cumulative misinformation effects. Proceedings of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC) Conference IX. (pp. 18-19). Retrieved from http://www.sarmac.org/images/upload/downloads/SARMAC_IX_2011.pdf

Jack, F., Martyn, E., & Zajac, R. (2011). The use of visual aids during interviews with child, adolescent and adult witnesses. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Memory (ICOM-5). (pp. 137-138). Retrieved from http://www.york.ac.uk/conferences/icom5/Abstract%20Booklet_ICOM5220711.pdf

Jack, F., Walker, S., & Zajac, R. (2010). Improving children's accuracy on target-absent lineups: Do the physical characteristics of the wildcard influence its success? American Psychology-Law Society Conference (AP-LS). Retrieved from http://convention3.allacademic.com/one/apls/apls10/index.php?

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