Indexed on: 01 Aug '12Published on: 01 Aug '12Published in: Psychiatry, psychology, and law : an interdisciplinary journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
As children are often called upon to provide testimony in court proceedings, determining the veracity of their statements is an important issue. In the course of investigation by police and social workers, children are often repeatedly interviewed about their experiences, though the impact of this repetition on children's true and false statements remains largely unexamined. The current study analysed semantic differences in children's truthful and fabricated statements about an event they had or had not participated in. Results revealed that children's truthful and fabricated reports differed in linguistic content, and that their language also varied with repetition. Discriminant analyses revealed that with repetition, children's true and false reports became increasingly difficult to differentiate using linguistic markers, though true reports were consistently classified correctly at higher rates than false reports. The implications of these findings for legal procedures concerning child witnesses are discussed.