(The null) Importance of police experience on intuitive credibility of people with intellectual disabilities



Antonio L. Manzanero, José M. Quintana, María J. Contreras

Research in Developmental Disabilities

January 2015






•Intuitive ability of polices and students to assess credibility of people with intellectual disabilities was analyzed.

•There are no differences between groups in their ability to discriminate.

•No differences were found between “veteran” and “novice” police officers.

•34.73% of cases evaluated by students were incorrectly discriminated, 37.75% by polices.

•Adequate procedures to address people with intellectual disabilities need to be provided.


In the present study, the intuitive ability of police to discriminate between real and false statements of people with mild and moderate (IQ range = 50–80, average = 60.0) intellectual disabilities (ID) was analyzed. The assessments issued by groups with different levels of experience in police techniques (psychology students, and police officers) were compared. The results showed no differences between the two groups in their ability to discriminate (d′ = 0.785 and d′ = 0.644, respectively). When the experience of the police was taken into consideration, no differences were found between “experienced” and “novice” police officers (d′ = 0.721 and d′ = 0.582, respectively). No differences were found in response criteria, which were neutral in all cases. Moreover, 34.73% of cases evaluated by the inexperienced group were incorrectly discriminated, in comparison to the 37.75% of incorrect assessments made by police. The implications of the limited ability of intuition to discriminate between real and simulated victims with ID, which did not yield significant differences between experienced and inexperienced assessors in obtaining and assessing statements, are discussed. In light of the results of this study, it is concluded that adequate resources and standardized procedures to properly address people with ID who come into contact with the police and judicial institutions need to be provided.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee