Suggestibility in neglected children: The influence of intelligence, language, and social skills Academic Article uri icon


  • We administered the GSS-2, a standardised measure of suggestibility, to 5- to 12-year-old children to ascertain whether neglected children's responses to leading questions distinguish them from those of their non-neglected counterparts. Neglected children (n = 75) were more likely than an age-matched sample of non-neglected children (n = 75) to yield to leading questions, despite no difference in their ability to recall the test stimuli. Subsequent collection of individual difference data from the neglected sample revealed that this effect could not be attributed to intelligence, language ability, problem behaviours, age at onset of neglect, or time spent in out-of-home care. With respect to social skill, however, suggestibility was positively correlated with communicative skill, and marginally positively correlated with assertion and engagement. While on the surface our social skills findings seem counter-intuitive, it is possible that maltreated children with relative strengths in these areas have learned to comply with adults in their environment as a way to protect themselves or even foster belonging. Our data, while preliminary, raise interesting questions about whether targeted interventions could help these children to more actively participate in decisions about their lives.


  • Benedan, Laura
  • Powell, Martine B
  • Zajac, Rachel
  • Lum, Jarrad AG
  • Snow, Pamela

publication date

  • 2018