Child’s Play: Anatomically Correct Dolls and Embodiment

Human Studies 30 (3):255-267 (2007)
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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 certainly cognitive developments aid in representing 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 will examine these issues and suggest 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.
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Judgment and Reasoning in the Child.Piaget, Jean & Warden, Marjorie

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