43. The effects of the putative confession and parent suggestion on children's disclosure of a minor transgression. Legal and Criminological PsychologyLegal and Criminological Psychology (Published 2017) (2015)
Purpose: This study examined the effects of the putative confession (telling the child that an adult “told me everything that happened and he wants you to tell the truth”) on children’s disclosure of a minor transgression after questioning by their parents. Methods: Children (N = 188; 4 – 7-year-olds) played with a confederate, and while doing so, for half of the children, toys broke. Parents then questioned their children about what occurred, and half of the parents were given additional scripted suggestive questions. Finally, children completed a mock forensic investigative interview. Results: Children given the putative confession were 1.6 times more likely in free recall to disclose truthfully that toys had broken. Among children who failed to disclose during free recall, those who received the putative confession were 1.9 times more likely when asked yes/no questions to disclose true breakage. The putative confession did not decrease accuracy, and children who received the putative confession were 2.6 times less likely to report false toy play. Parent suggestion did not adversely affect the efficacy of the putative confession. Conclusions: The current study demonstrates that children are often quite reticent to disclose transgressions, and that the putative confession is a promising avenue for increasing children’s comfort with disclosing and minimizing their tendency to report false details, even in the face of suggestive questioning by parents.
- child abuse,
- child testimony,
- child witness,
- children's disclosure
Publication DateJuly 23, 2015
Citation InformationRush, E.B., Stolzenberg, S.N., Quas, J.A., & Lyon, T.D. (2017). The effects of the putative confession and parent suggestion on children's disclosure of a minor transgression. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 22, 60-73.