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Department of Psychology


Identifying the sources of memories (e.g., who carried out an action, whether an event happened or was suggested, when an instance of a repeated event occurred) is an important skill in providing accurate accounts of events in forensic investigations. Sensitivity to the nature and development of children’s source-monitoring skills can inform interviewing practices. Five perspectives addressing alternate aspects of the development of children’s source monitoring are outlined (source-monitoring theory, fuzzy-trace theory, schema theory, the person-based perspective, and the mental-state reasoning model). Six main areas of empirical research stemming from these theories are then discussed with emphasis on how the findings relate to the forensic arena: The similarity of sources, the identity of the agent, prospective processing, the relation of source monitoring to other cognitive skills, metacognitive understanding, and the stringency of source-monitoring decisions. The research reviewed is used to address two main applications to forensic investigations: (a) expectations of child witnesses, and (b) interviewing protocols.