Validity of a test of children's suggestibility for predicting responses to two interview situations differing in their degree of suggestiveness

K Finnilä, N Mahlberg, Pekka Santtila, Kenneth Sandnabba, P Niemi

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Abstract

In the present study the relative contributions of internal and external sources of variation in children's suggestibility in interrogative situations were examined. One hundred and eleven children (48 4- to 5-year-olds and 63 7- to 8-year-olds) were administered a suggestibility test (BTSS) and the most suggestible (N=36) and the least suggestible (N=36) children were randomly assigned to either an interview condition containing several suggestive techniques or to one containing only suggestive questions. The effects of internal sources of variation in suggestibility were compared with the effects of the interview styles on the children's answers. The former did influence the children, but the external sources of variation in suggestibility had a stronger impact. Influences of cognitive, developmental factors could be found, but not when abuse-related questions were asked and high pressured interview methods were used. These findings indicate that individual assessment of suggestibility can be of some assistance when interviewing children, but diminishing suggestive influences in interrogations must be given priority.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)32–49
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume85
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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