Who is the better eyewitness? sometimes adults but at other times children

Henry Otgaar*, Mark L. Howe, Harald Merckelbach, Peter Muris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Suggestibility is regarded as a major issue when children testify in court. Many legal professionals and memory researchers view children as inferior witnesses. Although differences in suggestibility exist between children and adults, they are much more complex than is usually assumed. We show that under certain conditions, adults are more susceptible than children to suggestion and false memories. We provide evidence that age-related shifts in suggestibility and false memory appear contingent on how quickly and automatically children and adults make associations when experiencing events. Specifically, when confronted with suggestive information about a related but nonexperienced detail, adults more frequently automatically generate links between items experienced and those already in memory, making them more susceptible to suggestion than children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • suggestibility
  • development
  • false memory
  • developmental reversal
  • associative activation
  • SPONTANEOUS FALSE MEMORIES
  • DEVELOPMENTAL REVERSALS
  • AGE-DIFFERENCES
  • REPRESENTATIONAL CONSTRAINTS
  • PSYCHOLEGAL IMPLICATIONS
  • SUGGESTIBILITY
  • TESTIMONY
  • RECALL
  • MALLEABILITY
  • INFORMATION

Cite this