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Suggestive questions reduce the accuracy of adults’ reports about one episode of a repeated event

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-10, 03:35 authored by Stefanie SharmanStefanie Sharman, Meaghan DanbyMeaghan Danby
Witnesses often need to describe individual episodes of repeated crimes, such as family violence. Suggestive questions containing incorrect information reduce the accuracy of adults’ reports of single events; in the current experiment, we examined the effects of suggestive questions on adults’ reports of one episode of a repeated event. Over two weeks, 134 participants completed four activity sessions containing variable details that changed each session, and new details that were not repeated across the series. One week later, they were interviewed and described one (self-nominated) target episode. Next, participants were asked four suggestive questions that varied according to whether the suggested details had been experienced in a non-target episode or not experienced, and detail-type (variable or new). As research with children indicated that question-type might be important, half our participants were asked open suggestive questions; the other half were asked closed suggestive questions. Participants accepted more suggestions about experienced (non-target) than not-experienced details, and about variable than new details. They also accepted more details in open than closed questions, but only for experienced non-target new details. Our results demonstrate the ease with which participants accepted interviewer-suggested details when reporting on an episode of a repeated event.

History

Journal

Psychology, Crime and Law

ISSN

1068-316X

eISSN

1477-2744

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Publisher

ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD