Perception versus reality: Investigating the impact of talkativeness on children’s credibility and reliability
Does how much children say predict how credible they are as a witness? Children’s talkativeness can be easily observed by jurors, but we know very little about how it affects judgements of children’s credibility. The present research investigates the effect of talkativeness on juror perceptions and children’s actual testimony. In Study 1 participants rated six transcripts from low/high talkative 5-, 8-, or 12-year old children. Results showed that mock jurors rated high-talkative children more favourably than low-talkative children and older children were rated more favourably than younger children. In Study 2 we analysed transcripts of memory interviews from 5-, 8-, and 12-year-old children. Talkativeness was not associated with accuracy, but child age was. Talkativeness and child age were both associated with the amount of information recalled. This research shows that talkativeness of child witnesses not only influences juror perceptions but also is an indication of the amount of information that children recall in a memory interview. It is not just what a child says, but also how they say it that matters.