Missing children appeal designs: Is recall accuracy influenced by the design of the appeal?

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When a child goes missing it is common practice to release an appeal of the child in the hope that a member of the public could help to identify and locate them. Despite being an everyday occurrence, there remains a significant gap in our understanding of how effective these appeals are. The present study sought to explore the effectiveness of missing children appeals through the recall accuracy of the general public immediately after observing the appeals and again after a three-day delay. One hundred and eighty-two participants observed either a mock Child Rescue Alert or a mock Twitter appeal. The results found no significant difference in recall accuracy between the design of the appeals although there was a significant difference in recall error. Confidence in own recall accuracy and the length of time spent observing the appeals were also found to be significantly associated with recall accuracy. Initial recall accuracy scores were significantly higher than recall accuracy scores following a three-day break. This exploratory study demonstrates the requirement to improve missing children appeals and lays the foundation for future studies to build on these findings further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4599-4611
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number9
Early online date13 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021


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