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Dataset Details

Children’s Eyewitness Reports after Exposure to Misinformation from Parents, 1994-1995

Dataset Number: 88


Poole, Debra; Lindsay, D. Stephen


This study examined how misleading suggestions from parents influenced children’s eyewitness reports. A sample of 114 children (3 to 8 years old) participated in science demonstrations, listened to their parents read a story that described experienced and nonexperienced events, and subsequently discussed the science experience in two follow-up interviews. Data include descriptive information on the participants and their families, condition assignments, and information about children’s responses to interview questions during each of the three experimental sessions.

In Session 1, immediately after exposure to the science demonstrations, the children answered five open-ended questions about their experiences with "Mr. Science." In Session 2, conducted in the children’s homes approximately 3.5 months later and after parents read the misleading story, each child answered (a) the same five open-ended questions as in Session 1, (b) a set of ten direct yes-no questions (each followed by a prompt to describe the event in question) and, (c) open-ended and direct questions that asked the child to report which events were described in the book and which events had really happened during their visit to Mr. Science (i.e., the source-monitoring procedure). Session 3 was a repetition of the Session 2 interview after a 1-month delay with no further intentional memory contamination.

Each child witnessed four science demonstrations (from a set of eight demonstrations). For each child, the misleading story described two science demonstrations that the child witnessed, two novel science demonstrations, and one of two descriptions of nonexperienced touching. Thus there are six within-subject event conditions for each child: two demonstrations that were experienced but not described in the story (i.e., experienced only events), two demonstrations that were experienced and described in the story (i.e., experienced-heard events), two demonstrations that were described in the story but not experienced (i.e., heard-only events), two demonstrations that were neither experienced or described in the story (i.e., control events), one event involving nonexperienced touching that was described in the story (i.e., a touch-heard event), and one touching event that was not experienced or described in the story (i.e., a touch-control event).

Data Documentation