CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Gongola on Concealment and Children's Under-Informative Responses

Jennifer GongolaShanna Williams and Thomas D. Lyon (USC Gould School of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law and University of Southern California Gould School of Law) have posted Children's Under-Informative Responding is Associated with Concealment of a Transgression (Forthcoming in Applied Cognitive Psychology) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Concealment (i.e., omitting information without saying anything untrue) has received little empirical attention relative to falsification (i.e., false statements). This study examined free recall reports among a sample of 349 maltreated and non-maltreated children ages four to nine, and found that concealment of a minor transgression was significantly associated with two types of responding: generic under-informative responding, wherein responses are relevant but imprecise, general, or vague; and specific under-informative responding, wherein responses selectively omit incriminating details. Under-informative responding failed to distinguish between children who would ultimately reveal the transgression when asked recognition questions and children who would answer falsely. The results suggest that children’s initial recall reports may provide some insight into the likelihood that they are concealing information.

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