Children's eyewitness memory for a repeated event

Susan McNichol, Rosalyn Shute, Alison Tucker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: This study examined a significant issue for chronic sexual abuse investigations: Children's eyewitness testimony about repeated events. The few previous studies focused on preschoolers and none used the present methodology of presenting repeated events differing slightly in their details, as would happen in chronic abuse.Method: One group of 6- to 7-year-olds played individually with an experimenter on one occasion; the other group experienced three such events, with some details remaining the same and others changing. In a phased interview, children were questioned about the initial event.Results: For details which stayed the same, the children who experienced three events had more accurate memories. They had poorer memories than the single-event group for details which were changed in the later events; however, this was due to interference errors, with errors of omission and commission being lower than in the single-event group. Children conveyed clearly that inappropriate touching did not occur.Conclusions: Children who experience repeated events have increased recall for repeated details but confuse the timing of details which change across events. The findings support previous suggestions that (a) it is unrealistic to expect children to be able to report repeated events without some confusion about timimg of details and (b) children are resistant to misleading questions about abuse. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1127-1139
    Number of pages13
    JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
    Volume23
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999

    Keywords

    • Child abuse
    • Children's eyewitness testimony
    • Incidental memory
    • Repeated events

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