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Adult credibility assessments of misinformed, deceptive and truthful children

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Abstract

This study compared how adults assess the credibility of children who either: (1) experienced a misleading suggestive interview, (2) were coached to lie or (3) experienced a non-misleading interview. Preschool children (N = 24) were interviewed about a game they had played. One third of them spontaneously reported the truth, one third lied in response to coaching and one third spontaneously reported misinformation from a prior misleading suggestive interview. One hundred and twenty-nine college students watched videotaped interviews of these children describing their alleged play activities and assessed their credibility. Children who had experienced misleading suggestive questioning were rated as less credible than those who were telling the truth and those who were lying. Adults could accurately detect truth-telling children above chance, whereas accuracy was below chance detecting both lying children and children who had been misinformed. Adults were most confident of their ratings of truth-telling children. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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