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Is this man your daddy?: suggestibility in a children's eyewitness identification of a family member.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date1995
JournalChild Abuse & Neglect
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


Studies of natural language development suggest that overextension of family memberships terms, such as daddy or papa, occurs in children in the second year of life, but rarely persists thereafter. However, in British Courts it is common for the testimony of 3- and even 4-year-olds to be dismissed on the grounds that these children may not be reliably identifying their father or stepfather when they claim that daddy was the perpetrator of abuse. This study examined whether 3-year-olds could be persuaded to confirm that a stranger who was labelled as daddy was their own father. A mock interview with experienced disclosure interviewers was conducted. Five of the 17 children—all from blue-collar families—misidentified a photograph of their own father when an identification question was repeated. Rather than undermining the validity of all preschoolers testimony, it is suggested that the responses of some children to apparently mundane questions of fact are influenced by contextual factors, including repetition of the question and the perceived omniscience of the interviewer.