The Effects of the Putative Confession and Evidence Presentation on Maltreated and Non-Maltreated 9- to 12- year-olds' Coached Concealment of a Minor Transgression

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 188, 104674 (2019)

USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS19-20

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 19-20

43 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2019 Last revised: 3 Dec 2019

See all articles by Angela D. Evans

Angela D. Evans

Institute of Child Study (Brock University)

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: December 2, 2019

Abstract

The present study examined the influence of the putative confession (in which children are told that the suspect told them “everything that happened” and “wants [the child] to tell the truth”) and evidence presentation on 9- to 12-year-old maltreated and non-maltreated children’s disclosure (N = 321). Half of the children played a forbidden game with an adult confederate which resulted in a laptop breaking (no transgression occurred for the other half of children), followed by coaching to conceal the forbidden game and to falsely disclose the sanctioned game. Children were then interviewed about the interaction with the confederate. Among the 9- to 10-year-olds, the putative confession led to a higher rate of breakage disclosure (62%) than the control condition (13%), and higher rates of leakage of incriminating details during recall (47% compared to 9%). Older children were more likely to disclose than younger children, and uninfluenced by the putative confession. Among all ages, evidence presentation elicited disclosures from 63% of children who had not previously disclosed, without eliciting any false disclosures.

Keywords: disclosure, honesty, putative confession, evidence presentation, forensic interview, child maltreatment

Suggested Citation

Evans, Angela D. and Lyon, Thomas D., The Effects of the Putative Confession and Evidence Presentation on Maltreated and Non-Maltreated 9- to 12- year-olds' Coached Concealment of a Minor Transgression (December 2, 2019). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 188, 104674 (2019); USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS19-20; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 19-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3425511

Angela D. Evans

Institute of Child Study (Brock University) ( email )

500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catherines, Ontario L2S 3A1
Canada

Thomas D. Lyon (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-0142 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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