The Effects of Reinforcement on Children's Mundane and Fantastic Claims
Garven, Wood, Malpass, & Shaw (1998) found that interviewing techniques from the McMartin Preschool case can induce preschool children to make false allegations of wrongdoing against a classroom visitor. In the present follow-up study, two specific components of the McMartin interviews, reinforcement and cowitness information, were examined more closely in interviews of 120 children, ages 5 to 7. Children who received reinforcement made 35% false allegations against a classroom visitor, compared to 12% of controls (p < .001). When questioned about "fantastic" events (e.g. being taken from school in a helicopter) children receiving reinforcement made 52% false allegations, compared to 5% for controls (p < .001). In a second interview, children repeated the allegations even when reinforcement had been discontinued. The findings indicate that reinforcement can swiftly induce children to make false and persistent allegations of wrongdoing.
Sena Garven, James M. Wood, and Roy S. Malpass. "The Effects of Reinforcement on Children's Mundane and Fantastic Claims" Journal of Applied Psychology (2000).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_wood/2
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