Human Studies

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 255–267 | Cite as

Child’s Play: Anatomically Correct Dolls and Embodiment

  • Talia WelshEmail author
Research Paper


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.


Anatomical dolls Change blindness Child psychology Embodiment Ecological psychology Forensic interviews Merleau-Ponty Representation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy & Religion #2753University of TennesseeChattanoogaUSA

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