ERIC Number: ED349079
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991
Reference Count: N/A
Do Children Believe in Their Own Believability?
Hulse-Trotter, Katherine; Warren, Amye R.
Motivational and cognitive aspects of children's reports of an event to which they were the only "witness" and the prime "suspect" were examined. Subjects were 67 children of 3 to 10 years of age. After a test and play session to assess the children's receptive vocabulary and their understanding of the term "believe," each child was asked to perform a task with a collection of figures constructed from play dough. During a brief period in which the child was left alone, a man entered, broke one of the figures (a snake), and left hurriedly, and left behind some books he had brought with him. In semistructured interviews, questions such as "What happened to the snake?" and "What did you do?" were asked of each child. Other questions assessed the child's perceptions of his or her believability, understanding of the utility of corroborating evidence, and knowledge of legal concepts. The majority of the children accurately reported the way in which the figure was broken. Children's expectations that they would be believed by unfamiliar adults decreased with age. Older children were more likely than younger children to corroborate their stories by describing the man and mentioning his books. Children younger than age 7 had little familiarity with, or understanding of, legal concepts. Adults' perceptions of the credibility of child witnesses, developmental influences on children's perceptions of their credibility, and implications for children's court testimony are discussed. (AC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A