The role of psychosocial factors in young children's responses to cross-examination style questioning



The goal of the present study was to ascertain whether individual differences in self-esteem, self-confidence, assertiveness and number of siblings could predict young children's responses to cross-examination style questioning. Five- and 6-year-old children (N = 137) participated in a unique staged event and were then interviewed with analogues of direct and cross-examination. Despite highly accurate direct examination reports, children made a large number of changes to these reports during cross-examination, resulting in a significant decrease in accuracy. Poor cross-examination performance was associated with low levels of teacher-rated self-confidence, self-esteem and assertiveness, raising concern that the children who are likely to fare poorly during cross-examination may be the very children who are most likely to appear as witnesses in the courtroom. Furthermore, number of siblings was inversely related to cross-examination performance. Further research is required to pinpoint the specific mechanism(s) behind this finding. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.