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Who is the better eyewitness? Sometimes Adults but at Other Times Children

Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L. ORCID: 0000-0002-5747-5571, Merckelbach, H. & Muris, P. (2018). Who is the better eyewitness? Sometimes Adults but at Other Times Children. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(5), pp. 378-385. doi: 10.1177/0963721418770998


Suggestibility is regarded as a major issue when children testify in court. Many legal professionals and memory researchers view children as inferior witnesses. Although differences exist between children and adults in suggestibility, these are much more complex than is usually assumed. We show that under certain conditions, adults are more susceptible to suggestion and false memories than children. We demonstrate that age-related shifts in suggestibility and false memory appear contingent on how fast and automatic children and adults make associations when experiencing events. Specifically, when confronted with suggestive information about a related, but non-experienced detail, adults more frequently than children, automatically generate links between items experienced and those already in memory making them more susceptible to suggestion than children.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: Suggestibility; Development; False Memory; Developmental Reversal; Associative Activation
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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