A review of the differential contributions of language abilities to children's eyewitness memory and suggestibility

C.O. Perez*, K. London, H. Otgaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

Abstract

Language abilities have been heralded as an important cognitive factor driving children's memory and suggestibility in forensic contexts. To this end, we reviewed over 30 years of child eyewitness memory literature to identify patterns in how language skills affect children's event memory and suggestibility. Across 37 studies examining 3071 children aged 2-to 17-years-old, language abilities emerged as an important predictor of children's eyewitness memory and suggestibility. The results revealed that specific domains of language are differentially related to children's memory and suggestibility. Specifically, expressive language abilities were most consistently related to children's accuracy during free recall and decreased shifting. Receptive language abilities were most consistently related to children's accurate responses to direct, non-leading questions. Furthermore, narrative skills were associated with both increases and decreases in children's suggestibility depending on the type of narrative obtained. Our findings imply a nuanced relationship between language abilities and children's testimonial performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101009
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopmental Review
Volume63
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Child witness
  • Eyewitness memory
  • Suggestibility
  • Language
  • Forensic interviews
  • Review
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • INTERROGATIVE SUGGESTIBILITY
  • EVENT MEMORY
  • NEGLECTED CHILDREN
  • VERBAL-ABILITY
  • FALSE MEMORIES
  • LOW-SES
  • MALTREATMENT
  • STYLE
  • INTELLIGENCE

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