Interviewing child witnesses: The effect of forced confabulation on event memory

Stacia Stolzenberg, Kathy Pezdek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Age differences in rates of forced confabulation and memory consequences thereof were assessed using a recall task similar to real forensic interview procedures. Children viewed a target video and were tested with the same 18 questions immediately afterward and 1. week later. Of the 18 questions, 12 were answerable; the 6 unanswerable questions referred to information not in the video. Participants in the voluntary confabulation condition had a " don't know" response option; those in the forced confabulation condition did not. Although 6-year-olds and 9-year-olds were equally likely to provide a response to an unanswerable question initially, 1. week later 9-year-olds were significantly more likely than 6-year-olds to repeat their initial confabulated responses. These findings suggest that pressing child witnesses to answer questions they are initially reluctant to answer is not an effective practice, and the consistency of children's responses over time is not necessarily an indication of the accuracy of their eyewitness memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Child witnesses
  • Children's memory
  • Developmental differences
  • Eyewitness memory
  • Forced confabulation
  • Suggestibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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