Confessions of Children

Thomas D. Lyon , Lindsay Erin Wandrey , Elizabeth C. Ahern , Robyn Carbone Licht , Megan Simand Jodi Quas (University of Southern California – Gould School of Law , University of California, Irvine , University of Cambridge , University of Southern California , University of Cambridge and University of California, Irvine – Department of Criminology, Law and Society) have posted Eliciting Maltreated and Nonmaltreated Children’s Transgression Disclosures: Narrative Practice Rapport Building and a Putative Confession (85 Child Development 1756 (2014)) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This study tested the effects of narrative practice rapport building (asking open-ended questions about a neutral event) and a putative confession (telling the child an adult “told me everything that happened and he wants you to tell the truth”) on 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and nonmaltreated children’s reports of an interaction with a stranger who asked them to keep toy breakage a secret (n = 264). Only one third of children who received no interview manipulations disclosed breakage; in response to a putative confession, one half disclosed. Narrative practice rapport building did not affect the likelihood of disclosure. Maltreated children and nonmaltreated children responded similarly to the manipulations. Neither narrative practice rapport building nor a putative confession increased false reports.


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