Age differences in young children's responses to open-ended invitations in the course of forensic interview

Section on Social and Emotional Development, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.85). 11/2003; 71(5):926-34. DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.71.5.926
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "Although different researchers/protocols sometimes use different terminology to identify the types of prompts and questions that interviewers ask, there is strong agreement based on both memory and linguistic factors about the types of questions that are the safest to use and those that are more risky (Kassin, Tubb, Hosch & Memon, 2001). It is also acceptable to use open prompts to enquire about specific information, especially relating to elaboration of information that the child has already provided (Lamb et al., 2003). One way this can be achieved is using anchor points in time as components of open prompts. "

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    • "Researchers have reported that forced-choice questions are frequently used in various situations, including forensic contexts (Lamb et al., 2003), in spite of recommendations to avoid such questions (Lamb, Orbach, Hershkowitz, Esplin, & Horowitz, 2007). For example, Davies, Tarrant, and Flin (2000) found that in interviews conducted by police officers in the UK with suspected child victims of sexual abuse, almost half of the questions were either yes/no or forced-choice questions. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study was conducted to investigate whether forced-choice questions would lead to any particular tendency in young children's responses. Two experiments were conducted in which 3- to 5-year-olds children were shown a short animation and then were asked a set of two-option, forced-choice questions. Consistent findings were obtained: (i) Forced-choice questions influenced children's responses; (ii) Children displayed a consistent ‘recency tendency.’ That is, they tended to choose the second option in forced-choice questions; (iii) This tendency grew weaker as children aged. The findings suggest that forced-choice questions carry some suggestibility load and can bias children's responses. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Applied Cognitive Psychology
    • "These are non-leading, open-ended questions that tap recall memory, do not suppose any information the child has not mentioned, and do not focus retrieval on specific details (Lamb, Hershkowitz, Orbach, & Esplin, 2008; Lyon, 2014; Malloy, Johnson, & Goodman, 2013; Orbach & Pipe, 2011; Powell & Snow, 2007). Children as young as 4-years-old can respond informatively and accurately to such questions, although the ability to do so does improve with age (Lamb et al., 2003). Yesno and other forced-choice questions (e.g., " in the morning or at night? " ) are particularly problematic for young children who often answer by guessing (e.g., Rocha, Marche, & Briere, 2013; Waterman, Blades, & Spencer, 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: Teachers in many parts of the world are mandated reporters of child abuse and maltreatment but very little is known concerning how they question children in suspicious circumstances. Teachers (n=36), who had previously participated in a mock interview scenario designed to characterize their baseline use of various question-types when attempting to elicit sensitive information from children, were given online training in choosing effective questions. They engaged in simulated interviews with a virtual avatar several times in one week and then participated in a mock interview scenario. The amount and proportion of open-ended questions they used increased dramatically after training. The overall number of questions, and amount and proportions of specific and leading questions decreased. In particular, large decreases were observed in more risky yes-no and other forced-choice questions. Given that most teachers may feel the need to ask a child about an ambiguous situation at some point during their careers it is worthwhile to incorporate practice asking effective questions into their training, and the present research suggests that an e-learning format is effective. Additionally, effective questions encourage the development of narrative competence, and we discuss how teachers might include open-ended questions during regular classroom learning. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Child Abuse & Neglect
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