Co-Witness Influence on Children's Memory Reports: The Difference is in the Details

Authors


  • This research was financially supported by a grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research that was given to the second author. The authors thank all the children and teachers who participated. They also thank the following individuals for their assistance with data collection: Kristin Andersson, Franziska Clemens, Maria Dellenmark Blom, Lilith Edwinsson, Tove Hasselblad, Lukas Jonsson, Sara Landström, Lina Leander, Ola Nyström, Moa Persson, Henrik Silfverstolpe, Sara Svedlund, and Lisa Öhman. Finally, the authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Emma Roos af Hjelmsäter, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 500, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. E-mail: emma.roos@psy.gu.se

Abstract

This study examined the effect of social influence on children's witness reports, with respect to a number of details varying in centrality. Children (N = 115; age = 10 years, 4 months to 13 years, 8 months) were interviewed about a personally experienced event. Half of the children were interviewed together with a confederate who answered the interview questions before the child did, while the other half were interviewed alone. Children were influenced by the confederate's answers to withhold some critical details observed (omission errors), but not to add details not observed (commission errors). When the children were asked to follow up on their reports, truthful reports contained more information than did false reports.

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