Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Susan Gee

Abstract

The present study examined two important issues regarding children's eyewitness testimonies -compliance which is the tendency to agree with misleading questions and the misinformation effect whereby participants incorporate misleading postevent information into their memory recall of the original event. Eighty six primary school children (6-8 years) watched a video, listened to a misleading narrative and were then interviewed individually. To reduce compliance half the children received a pre-interview training package composed of instructions and practice questions with 'neither' and 'don't know' response options. To reduce the misinformation effect children were given a warning that they may have heard some misleading information. The test consisted of five misleading questions, five nonmisleading questions, five control questions and five misled questions. Results indicated that pre-interview training did reduce compliance to misleading questions, however there was also a decrease in correct responses to nonmisleading questions. This may be due to an overgeneralisation of the 'don't know' and 'neither' options or a reflection of the high rate of guessing. There was a misinformation effect, indicating that the children did incorporate the misleading information into their answers. The warning did not reduce the misinformation effect for children in the experimental group. This may be due to a lack of cognitive abilities to retrieve the original information and the demand characteristics of the interview situation. A number of explanations for the findings of the study are discussed. Further research would be beneficial investigating ways of improving children's accuracy and reliability when providing eyewitness testimonies.

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