Counteracting Potential Contamination of Young Children's Eyewitness Reports

  • Poole, Debra (PI)
  • Lindsay, D. Stephen D.S. (CoPI)

Grant Details

Description

Abstract Poole 9709111 There is a pressing need to develop interviewing procedures that enhance children's ability to discriminate, in their eyewitness reports, between events they remember experiencing versus events they remember hearing other people describe. This research builds on earlier work by these investigators that demonstrated that misinformation from parents often infiltrates the autobiographical reports of 3- to 8-year-old children, that errors appear even during the free-narrative portion of interviews, that asking explicit source-monitoring questions improves older children's ability to distinguish between events that actually occurred versus misinformation. The current project develops and tests interviewing techniques designed to help young witnesses escape the contaminating influence of prior exposure to misleading suggestions. In the first phase 1160 children play individually with an unfamiliar man (Mr. Science) and subsequently participate in an interview about the Mr. Science experience. Three months later, parents read a story to their children and the children are interviewed in three conditions: source-monitoring training (SMT) before or after the interview or no training control. Data analyses assess the efficacy of SMT for reducing false reports in free-narrative response without reducing accurate reports, the effects of SMT on accuracy of answers to leading questions, developmental trends in performance during SMT and the interview, and relations between individual difference variables and accuracy of testimony. This research answers basic questions about children's suggestibility and source-monitoring ability and practical issues of significance for forensic interviewing. %%% There is a pressing need to develop interviewing procedures that enhance children's ability to discriminate, in their eyewitness reports, between events they remember experiencing versus events they remember hearing other people describe. This research builds on earlier work by these investigators that demonstrated that misinformation from parents often infiltrates the autobiographical reports of 3- to 8-year-old children, that errors appear even during the free-narrative portion of interviews, that asking explicit source-monitoring questions improves older children's ability to distinguish between events that actually occurred versus misinformation. The current project develops and tests interviewing techniques designed to help young witnesses escape the contaminating influence of prior exposure to misleading suggestions. In the first phase 1160 children play individually with an unfamiliar man (Mr. Science) and subsequently participate in an interview about the Mr. Science experience. Three months later, parents read a story to their children and the children are interviewed in three conditions: source-monitoring training (SMT) before or after the interview or no training control. Data analyses assess the efficacy of SMT for reducing false reports in free-narrative response without reducing accurate reports, the effects of SMT on accuracy of answers to leading questions, developmental trends in performance during SMT and the interview, and relations between individual difference variables and accuracy of testimony. This research answers basic questions about children's suggestibility and source-monitoring ability and practical issues of significance for forensic interviewing. ***

StatusFinished
Effective start/end date08/15/9702/29/00

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $83,971.00

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