Purpose: When multiple children are asked about the same event, the consistency of their reports may be used as a heuristic for credibility. Little research has considered how consistent child co-witnesses are likely to be. In this study, we explored how likely child co-witnesses were to report the same details from a mutually experienced event. Methods: Pairs of children participated in an educational science event during which the target attempted to coax the children into breaking preestablished rules for the session (i.e., commit transgressions). Children were individually interviewed about their experience on two subsequent occasions. Results: Co-witnesses tended to be quite inconsistent: 32%–55% of all details recalled were only mentioned by one co-witness. Various factors were associated with co-witness consistency, including delay before the interview, centrality of details recalled, and children's age and forthcomingness. Conclusions: The findings indicate that inconsistency between co-witnesses reflects a natural memory phenomenon, and that practitioners should be cautious of using co-witness consistency as an indicator of credibility.
- eyewitness memory