Kids' court testimony may be better than adults

Cornell researchers in Human Development and Law have published research suggesting that children's legal testimony may be more reliable than adults', since kids interpret their memories less and are more likely to give an accurate accounting of events as they occurred.

This research shows that meaning-based memories are largely responsible for false memories, especially in adult witnesses. Because the ability to extract meaning from experience develops slowly, children are less likely to produce these false memories than adults, and are more likely to give accurate testimony when properly questioned.

The finding is counterintuitive; it doesn't square with current legal tenets, and may have important implications for legal proceedings.

"Because children have fewer meaning-based experience records, they are less likely to form false memories," says Reyna. "But the law assumes children are more susceptible to false memories than adults."