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Child and Adult Witness Event Memory Reporting and Metamemory Capabilities: Social Aspects and Legal Professionals’ Opinions

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Lusadg/saps-12/1168-SE
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Department of Psychology, Lund University


This dissertation focuses on aspects of the social context of child and adult eyewitness memory reports, along with their relation to report accuracy and metamemory performance. More specifically, it investigates the effects on memory reports and metamemory judgments of i) receiving feedback from co-witnesses, ii) being probed for further eventmemory reports, and iii) retelling eventmemory contents. It also investigates the attitudes of legal professionals toward child and adult witnesses, regarding factors – including social influences – that may affect memory and eventmemory reporting. The results support the conclusion that both adults’ and children’s memory reports given under free recall, can, in many cases, be quite reliable; but also that eyewitnesses – especially children – are highly vulnerable to social influences. In the first study, eyewitnesses showed overconfidence in answering questions about a film clip. Confirmatory co-witness feedback on the answers caused higher overconfidence compared to both receiving disconfirmatory feedback and receiving no feedback. These results on eventmemory reporting mirror results from research on co-witness feedback in line-up identification contexts (i.e., recognition memory). The second study shows that probing i) increases the amount of information recalled both for children and adults, ii) decreases the proportion of correct statements for children but not adults, iii) decreases confidence both for children and adults, and iv) increases overconfidence for children but not adults. Meanwhile, repetition of event-memory reports results in i) richer recall (i.e., more information reported) both for children and adults and ii) children – but not adults – show higher overconfidence compared with one recall. Finally, combining two recalls with probing disrupts metacognitive performance for children but not adults. These effects are then interpreted within the model of report monitoring (Koriat & Goldsmith, 1994, 1996). The third and final study shows that legal professionals believe children to have poorer event-memory and metamemory capacities than adults when making direct comparisons of child and adult witnesses. The pattern does not hold when making indirect comparisons such that either a child or an adult witness is considered. Meanwhile, consensus in beliefs among legal professionals about eyewitness memory and metamemory capacities is low.


AF-borgen, Sångsalen, Sandgatan 2, 223 50 Lund.
  • Ray Bull (Professor)


  • Psychology
  • Probes
  • Repeated recall
  • Forensic interviewing
  • Eyewitness
  • Confidence
  • Event memory
  • Metamemory
  • Free recall
  • Focused questions
  • Feedback
  • Legal professionals
  • Beliefs
  • Opinions


  • Carl Martin Allwood
  • Åse Innes-Ker
  • ISBN: 978-91-7473-279-5

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