Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Psychology
memory, children, suggestibility, interview, interpretation, recall, ambiguous event, parental influence
Past research has demonstrated that children are capable of providing accurate accounts of witnessed and experienced events, but that they are more susceptible to suggestion than adults. Children may be particularly suggestible because they frequently defer to adults to help interpret events. Similar studies have provided guidance for forensic interviewers regarding how to avoid suggestion within the context of an interview. This study addresses a gap in the current body of research. Specifically, this study begins to explore the influence of possible parent-child interactions that could take place between initial allegations or arousal of suspicions and the official forensic interview. Twenty-one second and third-graders witnessed a brief video of an ambiguous event. One week later parents followed a neutral, exculpating/good sport, or incriminating/cheating protocol as a guide for discussing the event with their child. Two days later the children were interviewed regarding their interpretation of the event, the source of their interpretation, and their confidence in their conclusions. Children who were exposed to a parental discussion with a cheating bias were significantly more likely to interpret the event in the direction of their parent "beliefs.” Children's confidence ratings did not differ between treatment groups or by the consistency of their interpretations with the parent discussion, but were lower for children who contradicted their own previous statements. Though some apparent influence was observed, children's responses to source monitoring questions indicated they were unaware of this influence.
© Erin Marie Grubbs
Grubbs, Erin Marie, "Children's Interpretation of an Ambiguous Event" (2010). MSU Graduate Theses. 1779.