Young children's difficulty with indirect speech acts: Implications for questioning child witnesses

Angela D. Evans, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kang Lee, Thomas D. Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior research suggests that infelicitous choice of questions can significantly underestimate children's actual abilities, independently of suggestiveness. One possibly difficult question type is indirect speech acts such as "Do you know." questions (DYK, e.g., "Do you know where it happened?"). These questions directly ask if respondents know, while indirectly asking what respondents know. If respondents answer "yes," but fail to elaborate, they are either ignoring or failing to recognize the indirect question (known as pragmatic failure). Two studies examined the effect of indirect speech acts on maltreated and non-maltreated 2-to 7-year-olds' post-event interview responses. Children were read a story and later interviewed using DYK and Wh- questions. Additionally, children completed a series of executive functioning tasks. Both studies revealed that using DYK questions increased the chances of pragmatic failure, particularly for younger children and those with lower inhibitory control skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-788
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Young children's difficulty with indirect speech acts: Implications for questioning child witnesses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this