The development of metasuggestibility in children



One component of metasuggestibility is the understanding that a person's statements can influence another person's reports. The purpose of the present study was to examine the development of this understanding in school-aged children. We produced a short video in which a boy makes a false allegation about being hit following an adult's suggestive interview. Children aged 6–13 years (N = 196) watched the video and answered open-ended and forced-choice questions about why the boy made a false allegation. The 6- and 7-year-olds performed poorly on all question types, whereas the 12- and 13-year-olds were at ceiling. There were developmental increases in metasuggestibility between 8 and 11 years. Our findings indicate that metasuggestibility undergoes prolonged development well into the school years. Implications for child witness training programs are discussed. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.