Is that what I said? Witnesses' responses to interviewer modifications

Jennifer S. Hunt, Eugene Borgida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Modifications occur when interviewers contradict statements made by witnesses or imply that witnesses provided information that they (interviewers) did not provide. Because of their suggestive nature, modifications threaten the reliability of investigative interviews. This study investigated developmental differences in witnesses' responses to modifications during interviews as well as in inclusion of modified misinformation in subsequent answers. Preschool, elementary school, and college students were interviewed about a video presentation. In the experimental conditions, the interviewer contradicted information about the video provided by the participants. Participants then answered two sets of follow-up questions: one immediately following the interview and another 6-8 days later. Results indicated that participants were more likely to ignore modifications than to correct or agree with them. Adult participants were most likely to disagree with modifications. Preschoolers were most likely to incorporate modified misinformation into subsequent answers. Implications of these findings for investigative interviews are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-603
Number of pages21
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and an American Psychology-Law Society Grant-in-Aid to the first author, as well as research funds provided by the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts to the second author.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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