Handmade Memories: The Robustness of the Gestural Misinformation Effect in Children’s Eyewitness Interviews

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Publication details

JournalJournal of nonverbal behavior
DateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Feb 2015
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2015
Issue number3
Volume39
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)259-273
Early online date25/02/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

An interviewer’s gestures can convey misleading information and subsequently cause inaccuracies in the reporting of an event by both adults and children. We investigated the robustness of the gestural misinformation effect, examining the extent to which an interviewer’s gestures mislead children under conditions that would normally buffer them against verbal suggestibility (strength of memory trace, age, and verbal ability). Children (a younger sample aged 2–4 years, n = 30; and an older sample aged 7–9 years, n = 26) were exposed to a videotaped event and questioned immediately, having been allocated randomly to either an accurate gesture condition (gestures consistent with observed events, e.g., “What was the lady wearing?” plus a ‘hat’ gesture) or a misleading gesture condition (“What was the lady wearing?” plus a ‘gloves’ gesture). Children were susceptible to the gestural misinformation effect even when questioned immediately after witnessing the event, regardless of age and verbal ability. These findings reveal new insights into the robustness of the gestural misinformation effect in children’s eyewitness interviews.

    Research areas

  • Eyewitness testimony, False memory, Gesture, Nonverbal, Suggestibility

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