Kathleen J. Sternberg

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maryland, United States

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Publications (65)89.51 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Verbatim contemporaneous accounts of 20 investigative interviews were compared with audiotaped recordings thereof. More than half (57%) of the interviewers' utterances along with 25% of the incident-relevant details provided by the children were not reported in the verbatim notes. The structure of the interviews was also represented inaccurately in these accounts. Fewer than half (44%) of the details provided by the children were attributed to the correct eliciting utterance type. Investigators systematically misattributed details to more open rather than more focused prompts. These results underscore the superiority of electronic recording when the content and structure of investigative interviews must be preserved.
    Law and Human Behavior 04/2012; 24(6):699-708. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives. The goal of the study was to determine whether the criterion-based content analysis (CBCA) indicators of credibility were more likely to be elicited by open-ended interview prompts than by more directive prompts.Methods. Coders independently applied a revised CBCA coding scheme while others rated interviewer utterance types and the length and richness of children's responses in transcripts of 20 forensic interviews of alleged victims of child sexual abuse.Results. There were high correlations between the number of CBCA criteria identified and both the length and richness of the children's utterances. Open-ended invitations were especially useful in eliciting responses that contained CBCA criteria, as expected.Conclusions. Open-ended invitations thus appear to elicit both more numerous details and details that are believed to suggest credibility. Implications for the application of CBCA codes to credibility assessment are discussed.
    Legal and Criminological Psychology. 06/2011; 2(2):169 - 176.
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose. This study was designed to determine whether environmental contextual cues, provided by visits to the scenes of alleged abuse, would facilitate the recall of information by alleged victims of child sexual abuse. Method. Participants were 96 4- to 13-year-olds who reported being victims of sexual abuse. Of the children, 50 were interviewedin the investigators' offices, and 46 were interviewed at the scene of the alleged abuse. Analyses focused on the effects of interview location, age, delay betweeen incident and interview, number of reported incidents, and familiarity with the scene on the number of details provided in office interviews and at the scene. Results. Children in thetwo groups did not differ with respect to the number of informative details reported. On average, children interviewed at the office reported 231.8 details, whereas children interviewed at the scene reported 234.7 details. In both interviewing conditions, older children (aged 7-9 and 10-13 years) provided significantly more details than younger children (aged 4-6 years). Children who experienced multiple incidents provided significantlymore details than children who reported experiencing single incidents. No significant interactions between environmental contextual cues, age, delay, scene familiarity and number of incidents were apparent. Conclusions. The present study is a pioneering attempt toexamine the value of physical context reinstatement in forensic settings. The results may also guide future research on contextual cueing in forensic settings.
    Legal and Criminological Psychology. 12/2010; 5(1):135 - 147.
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    ABSTRACT: One hundred alleged victims of child sexual abuse (aged 4–13; M = 9.3 years) were interviewed by police investigators about their alleged experiences. Half of the children were interviewed using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) structured interview Protocol, whereas the other children, matched with respect to their age, relationship with the alleged perpetrator, and seriousness of the alleged offenses, were interviewed by investigators following the Memorandum of Good Practice. Protocol-guided interviews elicited more information using free-recall invitations and less information using directive, option-posing and suggestive questions than did standard Memorandum interviews. There were no age differences in the proportion of total information provided in response to open-ended invitations in either condition, but there was a significant increase with age in the proportion of central information provided in response to open-ended invitations. Published in 2008 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Applied Cognitive Psychology 07/2008; 23(4):449 - 467. · 1.67 Impact Factor
  • 05/2008: pages 131 - 145; , ISBN: 9780470713679
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    ABSTRACT: The present study was designed to explore structural differences between forensic interviews in which children made allegations and those in which children did not make allegations. Fifty forensic interviews of 4- to 13-year-old suspected victims of abuse who did not disclose abuse during the interview were compared with the same number of forensic interviews of alleged victims who made allegations of sexual or physical abuse. Only cases in which there was substantial reason to believe that abuse had taken place were included in the study. Audiotapes of the interviews were examined with a focus on interviewer utterances and children's responses during the pre-substantive rapport-building, episodic memory training, and 'getting the allegation' phases of the interviews, which all employed the NICHD Investigative Interview Guide. Forensic interviews which yielded allegations of child abuse were characterized by quite different dynamics than interviews with children who did not make allegations. When interviewing non-disclosers, interviewers made less frequent use of free recall prompts and offered fewer supportive comments than when interviewing children who made allegations of abuse. Children who did not disclose abuse were somewhat uncooperative, offered fewer details, and gave more uninformative responses, even at the very beginning of the interview, before the interviewers focused on substantive issues and before the interviewers themselves began to behave differently. A premature focus on substantive issues may prevent children who are not responsive in the episodic memory training phase from disclosing abuse. Identifying reluctant disclosers and making more extensive efforts to build rapport before substantive issues are broached, or interviewing such children in more than one session, may help suspected victims disclose their experiences.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 08/2006; 30(7):753-69. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    Kathleen J Sternberg, Michael E Lamb, Eva Guterman, Craig B Abbott
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the effects of different forms of family violence at two developmental stages by assessing a sample of 110 Israeli children, drawn from the case files of Israeli family service agencies, studied longitudinally in both middle childhood and adolescence. Information about the children's adjustment was obtained from parents, teachers, and the children themselves when the children averaged 10.6 and 15.9 years of age using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Teacher Report Form (TRF), Youth Self-Report (YSR), and Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Information about the history of family violence was obtained from the mothers, fathers, children, and social workers. The results paint a mixed picture of the effects of family violence on children and adolescents. The relationship between concurrent behavior problems and abuse group varied by informant and study phase, although they were strongest when children were the informants. Predictions regarding the relationship between early abuse and later adjustment were only partially confirmed. Different informants did not agree about which groups of children were most adversely affected, there was little stability over time in the pattern of reported effects, and children were more likely than other informants to report levels of maladjustment that varied depending on recent or concurrent exposure to family violence. Many families changed their abuse status over time, and children who were new victims at follow-up had the most internalizing problems. Girls were found to be at more risk for internalizing and externalizing behavior problems than boys. Multiple informants are necessary to evaluate and assess the effects of family violence on children's behavior. Younger children may be more susceptible to the effects of family violence than older children, but problems manifest by some children may not carry over to adolescence. Changes in family and parenting practices, as well as in children's capacity to appraise and cope with family violence may help mitigate the adverse effects of family violence.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 04/2006; 30(3):283-306. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A mega-analytic study was designed to exploit the power of a large data set combining raw data from multiple studies (n = 1870) to examine the effects of type of family violence, age, and gender on children’s behavior problems assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Our findings confirmed that children who experienced multiple forms of family violence were at greater risk than children who experienced only one form of abuse, and witnesses of inter-parental violence were at similar risk as victims of violence. Age moderated the effects of family violence on externalizing behavior problems, but not on internalizing behavior problems. No main or interaction effects involving children’s gender were evident. These results underscore the need to take children’s age, type of violence, and type of outcome into account when examining the effects of family violence on children’s behavior problems.
    Developmental Review. 01/2006;
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of both childhood and teenage experiences of domestic violence on adolescent-parent attachments were examined. Israeli adolescents (M = 15.9 years) who were either victims of physical abuse, witnesses of physical spouse abuse, victims and witnesses of abuse, or neither victims nor witnesses of abuse were questioned about attachments to their parents using the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment [IPPA; Armsden, G. C., & Greenberg, M. T. (1987). The inventory of parent and peer attachment: Individual differences and their relationship to psychological well-being in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16, 427-454]. Abuse status 5 years earlier was unrelated to the adolescents' current perceptions of their attachments whereas current abuse status predicted the adolescents' perceptions of attachment to their mothers. Adolescents who were victims of physical abuse reported weaker attachments to their parents than adolescents who were not abused or who had solely witnessed interparental physical abuse. Attachments to mothers were weaker whether or not mothers were the perpetrators of abuse. These findings suggest that victimization adversely affects children's perceptions of relationships with their parents, but that changes in the exposure to family violence are associated with changes in relationships with parents. These findings suggest that intervention can have positive effects on parent-child relationships despite violent histories.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 08/2005; 29(8):853-69. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To introduce and evaluate a structured interview protocol designed for investigative interviews of youthful alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Seventy-two alleged perpetrators ranging from 9 to 14 years of age (M = 12 years) were interviewed by 1 of 13 experienced youth investigators, employed by the Israeli Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, about incidents that had been reported by alleged victims. All interviews were conducted as part of the investigators' regular work and followed the structured interview guide appended to this article. Interviewers questioned older and younger children similarly, but addressed fewer invitations, directive questions, and option-posing prompts to suspects who denied the allegations than to those who partially or fully admitted them. The total number of details provided by the suspects did not vary depending on their age or whether or not they fully or partially admitted the allegations. In both cases, more information was elicited using invitations rather than suggestive or option-posing prompts. Contrary to expectations, suspects who at least partially admitted their involvement provided considerable amounts of information and were very responsive to free recall prompts, although interviewers used more risky (potentially error-inducing) prompts when interviewing suspects rather than alleged victims.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 05/2004; 28(4):423-38. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ninety 4- to 13-year-old alleged victims of sexual abuse were interviewed by police officers using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigative interview protocol, following which they were shown a human figure drawing and asked a series of questions. The drawing and associated questions elicited an average of 86 new forensically relevant details. They were especially productive with 4- to 7-year-olds, who provided an average of 95 additional details (27% of their total) after the drawing was introduced despite having previously "exhausted" their memories. Information elicited using the drawing may be less accurate, however, because recognition memory prompts predominated, so such drawings should only be introduced late in investigative interviews.
    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 05/2004; 72(2):304-16. · 4.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Child Maltreatment Log (CML) is a computer-based program designed to record information about children's maltreatment experiences and associated life events. Addressing concerns posed by scientific panels and grant review panels, the CML was designed to improve upon existing instruments to facilitate collaboration among researchers interested in maltreatment. The CML encourages researchers to collect information from multiple sources and informants concerning children's maltreatment experiences. Rather than classifying types of maltreatment a priori, the CML allows researchers to describe children's experiences using objective descriptors pertaining to potential acts of abuse, potential perpetrators, frequency, onset, consequential injuries, and treatment. The CML can be downloaded by interested agencies and groups without charge.
    Child Maltreatment 03/2004; 9(1):30-48. · 2.77 Impact Factor
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    Kim P. Roberts, Michael E. Lamb, Kathleen J. Sternberg
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    ABSTRACT: Three- to nine-year-old children (n=144) interacted with a photographer and were interviewed about the event either a week or a month later. The informativeness and accuracy of information provided following either open-ended or direct rapport building were compared. Children in the open-ended rapport-building condition provided more accurate reports than children in the direct rapport-building condition after both short and long delays. Open-ended rapport-building led the three- to four-year-olds to report more errors in response to the first recall question about the event, but they went on to provide more accurate reports in the rest of the interview than counterparts in the direct rapport-building condition. These results suggest that forensic interviewers should attempt to establish rapport with children using an open-ended style. Published in 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Applied Cognitive Psychology 02/2004; 18(2):189 - 202. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To elucidate age differences in responses to free-recall prompts (i.e., invitations and cued invitations) and focused recognition prompts (i.e., option-posing and suggestive utterances), the authors examined 130 forensic interviews of 4- to 8-year-old alleged victims of sexual abuse. There were age differences in the total number of details elicited as well as in the number of details elicited using each of the different types of prompts, especially invitations. More details were elicited from older than from younger children in response to all types of prompts, but there were no age differences in the proportion of details (about 50%) elicited using invitations. Cued invitations elicited 18% of the total details, and the number of details elicited using cued invitations increased with age. Action-based cues consistently elicited more details than other types of cues.
    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 11/2003; 71(5):926-34. · 4.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether child witnesses of sexual abuse were more or less informative about the alleged incidents than alleged victims when interviewed similarly. Twenty-six alleged victims of child sexual abuse (aged 5 to 14 years; M=9.8 years) and 26 children who had witnessed but not experienced similar events were interviewed by experienced youth investigators about the alleged abuse. Children in the two groups were matched with respect to their age, relationships with the alleged perpetrator, and seriousness of the alleged offenses. All children were interviewed using the NICHD investigative interview protocol. Witnesses and victims provided similar amounts of information about the incidents of abuse. Interviewers used more open-ended invitations and elicited more information using open-ended prompts from witnesses than from victims, whereas they used more risky (including suggestive) prompts when interviewing victims. These results confirm that young children can be informative witnesses about events that they have either experienced or witnessed.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 10/2003; 27(9):1019-31. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Four distinct strategies were employed to train 21 experienced forensic interviewers to interview alleged sex abuse victims (M = 9.20 years of age) in accordance with professionally recommended practices. The structure and informativeness of the 96 interviews they conducted following training were compared with the structure and informativeness of 96 matched interviews conducted by the same interviewers in the 6 months prior to the training. Didactic workshops and instruction in the utilization of highly structured presubstantive interview procedures had little effect on the number of open-ended prompts used to elicit information or on the amount of substantive information elicited in this way. By contrast, intensive training in the use of a highly structured interview protocol, followed by continuing supervision in the form of monthly day-long seminars, supplemented in some cases by detailed individual feedback on recent interviews, yielded dramatic improvements on these measures of interview quality.
    Applied Developmental Science 07/2002; 6(3):114-125. · 0.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forensic interviews with 142 alleged victims of sexual abuse, ranging from 4.0 to 13.5 years of age, were conducted under three different interviewing conditions: at the scene of the incidents (Physical Context Reinstatement; PCR group), in the investigator's office with mental context reinstating instructions (MCR group), and in the office without contextual cueing (Control group). Children in the PCR, MCR, and Control groups did not differ significantly with respect to the total number of informative details reported. Children in the MCR condition provided more detailed responses to the main invitation and in their first narrative than did children in the PCR condition, however. They also provided proportionally more detailed responses to open-ended invitations and fewer details in response to directive prompts than did children in the two other conditions. The MCR procedures were thus associated with greater improvements in the quality of information retrieval than were the PCR procedures. In all interviewing conditions, children aged 7 to 13 years provided significantly more details than 4- to-6-year-old children did. The youngest children provided fewer details in response to invitations and directive utterances, and proportionally more details in response to option-posing and suggestive utterances. No significant interactions between age and interviewing condition were apparent. Published in 2002 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Applied Cognitive Psychology 03/2002; 16(4):429 - 441. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thirty-seven 4- to 12-year-old alleged victims of sexual abuse were interviewed using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development investigative interview guide by 8 experienced forensic investigators who received regular supervision, including timely feedback on their ongoing interviews. These interviews were matched and compared with 37 interviews conducted by the same investigators immediately following termination of the supervision and feedback phase. After the supervision ended, interviewers used fewer open-ended prompts and thus elicited less information from recall, instead relying more heavily on option-posing and suggestive prompts, which are less likely to elicit accurate information. These results suggest that ongoing supervision and feedback may be necessary to maintain desirable interview practices.
    Applied Developmental Science 01/2002; 6(1):35-41. · 0.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study was designed to determine whether greater reliance on general memory retrieval in children was related to depression, and whether family violence affected the specificity of children's memory retrieval. We compared children who had experienced some form of family violence with children who had never experienced any form of family violence, based on their responses to questions concerning child-parent and interparental disagreements. As expected, there was a positive correlation between the extent of "generic-categoric" memory retrieval and depression level. There was no evidence, however, that autobiographical memory was affected by family violence. This study is the first to report significant associations between depression and autobiographical memory style in children. The results suggest that the effect of family violence on children's memory retrieval may be mediated by depression.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 12/2001; 25(11):1427-37. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One hundred alleged victims of child sexual abuse (ages 4-12 years; M = 8.1 years) were interviewed by police investigators about their alleged experiences. Half of the children were interviewed using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's structured interview protocol, whereas the other children--matched with respect to their age, relationship with the alleged perpetrator, and seriousness of the alleged offenses--were interviewed using standard interview practices. Protocol-guided interviews elicited more information using open-ended prompts and less information using option-posing and suggestive questions than did standard interviews; there were no age differences in the amount of information provided in response to open-ended invitations. In 89% of the protocol interviews, children made their preliminary allegations in response to open-ended prompts, compared with 36% in the standard interviews.
    Journal of Applied Psychology 11/2001; 86(5):997-1005. · 4.31 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
89.51 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1990–2012
    • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
      Maryland, United States
  • 2001–2008
    • University of Leicester
      • School of Psychology
      Leiscester, England, United Kingdom
  • 2004–2006
    • University of Haifa
      • School of Social Work
      Haifa, Haifa District, Israel
  • 2000
    • Linköping University
      Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden
  • 1992
    • Institute for Human Development
      New Dilli, NCT, India