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J Exp Child Psychol. 2007 Aug;97(4):286-314. Epub 2007 May 21.

Children's metacognitive judgments in an eyewitness identification task.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.


Two experiments examined children's metacognitive monitoring of recognition judgments within an eyewitness identification paradigm. A confidence-accuracy (CA) calibration approach was used to examine patterns of calibration, over-/underconfidence, and resolution. In Experiment 1, children (n=619, mean age=11 years 10 months) and adults (n=600) viewed a simulated crime and attempted two separate identifications from 8-person target-present or target-absent lineups given lineup instructions that manipulated witnesses choosing patterns by varying the degree of social pressure. For choosers, but not nonchoosers, meaningful CA relations were observed for adults but not for children. Experiment 2 tested a guided hypothesis disconfirmation manipulation designed to improve the realism of children's metacognitive judgments. Children (N=796, mean age=11 years 11 months) in experimental and control conditions viewed a crime and attempted two separate identifications. The manipulation had minimal impact on the CA relation for choosers and nonchoosers. In contrast to adults, children's identification confidence provides no useful guide for investigators about the likely guilt or innocence of a suspect. These experiments revealed limitations in children's metacognitive monitoring processes that have not been apparent in previous research on recall and recognition with younger children.

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