There is a need to tell if children are providing truthful testimonies in legal cases. This study examined differences between children’s true and false statements obtained using either an interview that included cognitive instructions or one that did not. Children witnessed a theft that they were asked to deny and were interviewed with or without cognitive instructions. Truth-tellers were more forthcoming when they were interviewed using cognitive instructions. Honest statements contained more information about the theft than dishonest statements, but only amongst children interviewed using cognitive instructions. All cognitive instructions were effective at eliciting more details from truth-tellers than liars. Overall, cognitive instructions encourage children to be forthcoming and provide informative testimonies, as well as facilitate lie detection. Findings can inform interviewing practices that incorporate cognitive instructions for forensic and legal professionals to use with child witnesses.
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