The Gestural Misinformation Effect in Child Interviews in Switzerland

Kendra Meyer, Mark Blades, Sarah Krahenbuhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gestures embody concepts in the form of universal representations. Researchers have highlighted that social communication often embodies nonverbal behavior. A forensic interviewer’s nonverbal behavior, such as gesturing during an interview, could communicate misleading information and may cause inaccuracies in the interviewees’ testimonies. The current study was conducted in Switzerland and included 108 child participants, in three age groups (a younger sample aged 6–9 years, n = 32) (a middle sample aged 10–11 years, n = 40) and an older sample aged 12–13 years, n = 36). Participants viewed a video and completed an interview about the video, individually, immediately after. During the questioning, the interviewer deliberately misled the interviewees with nonverbal gestures. The results showed that 95 children were misled by at least one gesture and that gestures led to a significant decrease in accuracy. Children also incorporated misleading gestures and reported false information; adding to existing evidence that misinformation can also be communicated through nonverbal gestures. Our findings demonstrate the negative influence of misleading gestures in child eyewitness interviews and provide more evidence for the robustness of the gestural misinformation effect, reported in previous research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99–114
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant to the Department of Psychology from the University of Sheffield.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Child eyewitness interviews
  • Child interviewing
  • Gestural misinformation effect
  • Gestures


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