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NCJ Number: 77308 Find in a Library
Title: Susceptibility of Child Witnesses to Suggestion - An Empirical Study
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(1980)  Pages:201-210
Author(s): R L Cohen; M A Harnick
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Dealing with the reliability of child witnesses, this article tests the argument that child witnesses should be treated with suspicion because their memories are very susceptible to suggestion.
Abstract: Subjects of the reported experiment were 12 third grade students, 12 sixth grade students, and 12 college students. Each subject was shown the same short film containing two detailed episodes of a petty crime occurrence. Following the film presentation, each subject was asked 22 questions regarding the content of the film. All questions could be asked in either a suggestive or nonsuggestive form. Two versions of the question series were therefore constructed. The experiment thus tested the effects of two variables on memory performance, an age variable and a suggestibility variable whose effect could be seen by comparing memory for events associated with nonsuggestive questions. Data showed that the sixth grade students were equal to the college students in memory capacity and in their ability to resist suggestion. The third grade students were initially inferior to the older subjects in both areas. However, results from the second testing session revealed that although younger children appeared to submit to suggestion more readily than older subjects, the effect of suggestion on actual memory was not significantly different for the three subject groups. It is concluded that although young children may not possess as reliable memories as adults, they are still potentially good sources of eyewitness information. One footnote, 3 tables, and 19 references are included. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Effectiveness; Juveniles; Psychological research; Studies; Testimony; Witnesses; Young Adults (18-24)
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