Stress, Supportive Interviewing, and Children's Identification Accuracy
22 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 3, 2009
Although little is known about the effects of stress on children’s lineup identification accuracy, stress appears to be detrimental to adults’ identification accuracy. If stress is similarly detrimental to children, it is important to understand why such effects occur and, if possible, identify ways to mitigate these effects. The current study investigated the effects of stress on children’s identification abilities and whether interviewer-provided social support moderated these effects. 159 7-8 and 12-14 year olds completed a high or low stress version of a challenging laboratory task that involved interacting with an adult male and female experimenter. Two weeks later, children’s memory for the interaction, including the identity of the male experimenter via a photo lineup, was examined. Lineups varied in whether the identification target was present or absent, and interviewers behaved in either a supportive or nonsupportive manner. Identification accuracy, especially in terms of correctly rejecting the target absent line ups, was highest among children who experienced the high stress laboratory task and were later interviewed in a supportive manner. Results have implications for forensic settings in which child witnesses are asked to identify a perpetrator encountered under stressful circumstances.
Keywords: child witnesses, stress, interviewing techniques, eyewitness identification
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