Developmental Patterns of Eyewitness Responses to Repeated and Increasingly Suggestive Questions

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Kindergarten, Grade 2, Grade 4, and adult subjects viewed a brief video of two children arguing about the use of a bicycle. One week later subjects were asked for their free recall of the events in the video followed by sets of hierarchically arranged, increasingly suggestive questions that suggested a correct (positive-leading), an incorrect (misleading), or no specific (unbiased-leading) answer, with the final level of questioning for each item being a three-alternative multiple-choice question. Correct free recall varied with age, with the kindergarten and Grade 2 children generally following the lead of the first-level questions more so than the older subjects. Older children were as accurate as adults in responding to questions about the central items, but not so for noncentral items. Developmental differences were found in responses to repeated suggestive questioning, with kindergarten children following misleading questions and changing answers more often than older subjects. On the final, multiple-choice questions, kindergarten children were able to provide the correct answer as often as they had to the initial questions, despite intervening errors. Findings are discussed in terms of the type of questions presented, the repetition factors, and the opportunities for subjects changing their answers in response to subsequent questions about the same item.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: University of New Orleans 2: Universitat Wurzburg 3: Florida Atlantic University

Publication date: March 1, 1996

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