Get access

Stress, Interviewer Support, and Children's Eyewitness Identification Accuracy


  • This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0721377), and a grant-in-aid from the American Psychology-Law Society. We thank the families and children who participated in the project, as well as the undergraduate research assistants who assisted in data collection. Additional thanks to Jo Ann Prause for her help with the statistical analyses.


Few studies have investigated how stress affects eyewitness identification capabilities across development, and no studies have investigated whether retrieval context in conjunction with stress affects accuracy. In this study, one hundred fifty-nine 7- to 8- and 12- to 14-year-olds completed a high- or low-stress laboratory protocol during which they interacted with a confederate. Two weeks later, they attempted to identify the confederate in a photographic lineup. The lineup administrator behaved in either a supportive or a nonsupportive manner. Participants who experienced the high-stress event and were questioned by a supportive interviewer were most accurate in rejecting target-absent lineups. Results have implications for debates about effects of stress on eyewitness recall, how best to elicit accurate identifications in children, and developmental changes in episodic mnemonic processes.