Debra Ann Poole

Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (29)77.99 Total impact

  • Maggie Bruck · Kristen Kelley · Debra Ann Poole
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    ABSTRACT: In 3 sections of the same interview, children (N = 107, ages 3–8 years) were asked about body touches during previous medical examinations that included genital and anal touches for some children. First, in a free recall phase all children were asked to describe what had happened during the medical procedures. In the second and third sections they answered questions about body touches in 2 conditions, with body diagrams (BDs) and without body diagrams (no-BDs), with the order of conditions counterbalanced. Within each interview condition, the children answered cued-recall questions about touching and a set of recognition (yes-no) questions about touches to individual body parts. Cued recall with BDs elicited a greater number of correct sexual touch reports, but also more forensically relevant errors from the younger group. Cued-recall performance with BDs was largely identical to recognition performance without BDs. Taken together, the paucity of research on BDs and the current findings suggest 2 interim conclusions: (a) the use of BDs to elicit touch disclosures is not yet an evidence-based practice, and (b) there is a pressing need for research that examines promising approaches for encouraging accurate disclosures of abuse.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Psychology Public Policy and Law
  • Jason J Dickinson · Sonja P Brubacher · Debra A Poole
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    ABSTRACT: Ground rules, also called interview instructions, are included in investigative interviews with children around the world. These rules aim to manage the expectations of children who are typically unaccustomed to being questioned by adults who are naïve to the children's experiences. Although analog research has examined the efficacy of ground rules instruction, a systematic analysis of children's ability to respond appropriately to each of the rules has not been reported. In the current study, we scored the accuracy of children's (N = 501, 4 to 12 years) responses to 5 ground rules practice questions (e.g., "What is my dog's name?") and 2 questions that asked whether they would follow the rules, and then assigned inaccurate responses to 1 of several error categories. Few children answered every question correctly, but their performance on individual questions was encouraging. As expected, there were marked differences in children's understanding across ground rules questions (especially among the younger children), with "Don't guess" and "Tell the truth" rules being the easiest to comprehend. Together with evidence that ground rules instruction takes little time to deliver (typically 2 to 4 min) and is associated with improved accuracy in previous research, these findings support the use of ground rules in investigative interviews of children 4 years and older. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Law and Human Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: In eyewitness studies as in actual investigations, a minority of children generate numerous false (and sometimes incredulous) allegations. To explore the characteristics of these children, we reinterviewed and administered a battery of tasks to 61 children (ages 4-9years) who had previously participated in an eyewitness study where a man broke a "germ rule" twice when he tried to touch them. Performance on utilization, response conflict (Luria tapping), and theory of mind tasks predicted the number of false reports of touching (with age and time since the event controlled) and correctly classified 90.16% of the children as typical witnesses or exuberant (more than 3) false reporters. Results of a factor analysis pointed to a common process underlying performance on these tasks that accounted for 49% of the variability in false reports. Relations between task performance and testimony confirmed that the mechanisms underlying occasional intrusions are different from those that drive persistent confabulation and that deficient cognitive control fuels young children's exuberant false reports.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
  • Debra Ann Poole · Jason J Dickinson
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the impact of comfort drawing (allowing children to draw during interviews) on the quality of children's eyewitness reports. METHODS: Children (N=219, 5 to 12 years) who had participated in an earlier memory study returned 1 or 2 years later, experienced a new event, and described these events during phased, investigative-style interviews. Interviewers delivered the same prompts to children in the no drawing and drawing conditions but provided paper and markers in the drawing condition, invited these children to draw, and periodically asked if they would like to make another picture. RESULTS: Most children in the drawing condition were interested in using the materials, and measures of eyewitness performance were sensitive to differences in cognitive ability (i.e., age) and task difficulty (i.e., delay between the remote event and interview). Comfort drawing had no overall impact as evidenced by nonsignificant main effects of condition across 20 performance measures, although more of the younger children reported experienced touching in the drawing than no drawing condition. CONCLUSIONS: The children successfully divided attention between voluntary drawing and conversations about past events. Importantly, comfort drawing did not impair the amount of information recalled, the accuracy of children's answers, or even the extent to which interviewers needed to prompt for answers. Due to the large number of analyses, the benefit of drawing for younger, touched children requires replication. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Comfort drawing poses no documented risks for typically-developing school-aged children, but the practice remains untested for younger children and those with cognitive impairments.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · Child abuse & neglect
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    Debra Ann Poole · Maggie Bruck
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    ABSTRACT: There is a long-held assumption that objects help bridge the gap between what children know and what they can (or are willing to) explain. In this review, we present research on the extent to which two types of objects used as props in investigative interviews of children, anatomical dolls and body (human figure) diagrams, actually help children report accurate information about autobiographical events. We explain why available research does not instill confidence that props are the best solution to interviewing challenges, and we consider practitioners' and policy-makers responses to this evidence. Finally, we discuss the types of developmental research that are necessary to advance the field of evidence-based interviewing of children.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Developmental Review
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    Jason J. Dickinson · Debra A. Poole
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    ABSTRACT: Researchers rely on two types of coding systems to evaluate eyewitness narratives. Features-of-events checklists offer coding simplicity but are impractical when target events are complex. Units-of-information (UOI) systems score all information reported, regardless of event complexity, but are difficult to implement. To test whether simpler systems would alter conclusions about memory performance, transcripts from children (3–8 years of age) who participated in an eyewitness study, originally coded using a UOI system called syntactic units (SU), were recoded using two word count procedures. Correlations between SU, modified word count, and raw word count values were high, and the proportion of information that was inaccurate was comparable across systems. Considering their high interrater reliability, procedural simplicity, and convergence with SU coding, word count procedures are efficient alternatives to UOI coding.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Behavior Research Methods
  • Debra Ann Poole
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    ABSTRACT: Everson and Faller's (2012) article on the significance of sexualized behavior in child sexual abuse assessments critiques a chapter by Poole and Wolfe (2009), but their objections assumed conclusions and practice implications that were not contained in that chapter. In this comment, I reiterate the value of educating adults about normative sexual and nonsexual behavior that could be misconstrued as symptoms of sexual abuse in some children, review key points from the chapter, and point out that Everson and Faller's critique supports the chapter's take-home messages (i.e., the importance of gathering information from multiple sources and the need to test alternative hypotheses for concerning behavior, consider the overall context of individual cases, and obtain independent verification of evidence).
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Journal of Child Sexual Abuse
  • Debra Ann Poole · Jason J Dickinson
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    ABSTRACT: This study compared two methods for questioning children about suspected abuse: standard interviewing and body-diagram-focused (BDF) interviewing, a style of interviewing in which interviewers draw on a flip board and introduce the topic of touching with a body diagram. Children (N=261) 4-9 years of age individually participated in science demonstrations during which half the children were touched two times. Months later, parents read stories to their children that described accurate and inaccurate information about the demonstrations. The stories for untouched children also contained inaccurate descriptions of touching. The children completed standard or BDF interviews, followed by source-monitoring questions. Interview format did not significantly influence (a) children's performance during early interview phases, (b) the amount of contextual information children provided about the science experience, or (c) memory source monitoring. The BDF protocol had beneficial and detrimental effects on touch reports: More children in the BDF condition reported experienced touching, but at the expense of an increased number of suggested and spontaneous false reports. The two props that are characteristic of BDF interviewing have different effects on testimonial accuracy. Recording answers on a flip board during presubstantive phases does not influence the quality of information that children provide. Body diagrams, however, suggest answers to children and elicit a concerning number of false reports. Until research identifies procedures and/or case characteristics associated with accurate reports of touching during diagram-assisted questioning, interviewers should initiate discussions about touching with open-ended questions delivered without a body diagram.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · Child abuse & neglect
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    Debra Ann Poole · Maggie Bruck · Margaret-Ellen Pipe
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    ABSTRACT: The belief that props help children report abuse has fostered the widespread use of anatomical dolls and body diagrams in forensic interviews. Yet studies involving alleged abuse victims, children who have experienced medical examinations, and children who have participated in staged events have failed to find consistent evidence that props improve young children's ability to report key information related to bodily contact. Because props elevate the risk of erroneous touch reports, interviewers need to reconsider the belief that props are developmentally appropriate in forensic interviews, and researchers need to explore new approaches for eliciting disclosures of inappropriate touching.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Current Directions in Psychological Science
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    Kamala London · Maggie Bruck · Debra Ann Poole · Laura Melnyk
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    ABSTRACT: One component of metasuggestibility is the understanding that a person's statements can influence another person's reports. The purpose of the present study was to examine the development of this understanding in school-aged children. We produced a short video in which a boy makes a false allegation about being hit following an adult's suggestive interview. Children aged 6–13 years (N = 196) watched the video and answered open-ended and forced-choice questions about why the boy made a false allegation. The 6- and 7-year-olds performed poorly on all question types, whereas the 12- and 13-year-olds were at ceiling. There were developmental increases in metasuggestibility between 8 and 11 years. Our findings indicate that metasuggestibility undergoes prolonged development well into the school years. Implications for child witness training programs are discussed. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Applied Cognitive Psychology
  • David B. Daniel · Debra A. Poole
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    ABSTRACT: The trend to convert laboratory findings on the conditions associated with optimal memory into recommendations for teaching strategies and learning aids will harm students if findings fail to generalize to students' usual learning environments. Moreover, it is likely that pedagogies function differently for students with different degrees of background knowledge, time, and interest in the subject matter; that some support activities will prevent students from honing their ability learn from narrative material without guided learning; and that an overuse of learning aids will tax students' ability to use them effectively. We contrast two approaches to developing pedagogy-memory first and pedagogical ecology-and explain how the human factors approach of pedagogical ecology could be a more satisfying model for the scholarship of teaching and learning. © 2009 Association for Psychological Science.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2009 · Perspectives on Psychological Science
  • Rachel L Laimon · Debra A Poole
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    ABSTRACT: Do people realize the danger of asking misinformed children yes-no questions? Study 1 confirmed that disclosures children made during free recall in an earlier suggestibility study were more accurate than disclosures following "yes" responses to yes-no questions, which in turn were more accurate than disclosures following "no" responses. In Studies 2 and 3, college students watched interviews of children and judged the veracity of these three disclosure patterns. Participants generally believed false reports representing the first two patterns, although watching expert testimony that included a videotaped example of a false report reduced trust in prompted disclosures. Results document the need to inform forensic decision-makers about the circumstances associated with erroneous responses to yes-no questions.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Law and Human Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: Practitioner-members of the National Association of School Psychologists (N = 162) completed questionnaires regarding their suicide prevention and postvention roles, training, preparedness, and knowledge. Most were crisis team members, yet less than one-half reported graduate training in suicide risk assessment and less than one-fourth in postvention. Compared to nondoctoral-level practitioners, doctoral-trained practitioners felt better prepared to handle suicidal students. Most respondents had participated in a suicide risk assessment in the past 2 years, with few using standardized measures. Performance was moderately strong on questions about knowledge of risk factors, warning signs, and appropriate steps to respond to a suicidal student, but respondents showed less familiarity with postvention recommendations intended to discourage contagion. Training suggestions were identified. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Psychol Schs 44: 157–170, 2007.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Psychology in the Schools
  • D. Stephen Lindsay · Amina Memon · Debra A. Poole · Ray Bull
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    ABSTRACT: We respond to comments by Pope regarding research by Poole, Lindsay, Memon, and Bull. Pope called on psychologists to “scrutinize the assumptions” underlying our research on the grounds that the findings were reported inappropriately, there was no plan to control for Type I errors, and the sample was too small. We rebut each of these criticisms and clarify the findings and conclusions offered by Poole et al.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2006 · Clinical Psychology Science and Practice
  • Debra Ann Poole · Jason J Dickinson

    No preview · Article · Dec 2005 · Child Abuse & Neglect
  • Jason J. Dickinson PhD · Debra A. Poole PhD · Maggie Bruck PhD
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    ABSTRACT: Many researchers and interviewers have become disenchanted with the practice of using anatomically detailed (AD) dolls during forensic investigations, yet there is still support for doll-assisted interviews. This comment discusses five major concerns about AD dolls, involving child-related and interviewer-related factors. The research findings suggest that individuals who advocate for AD dolls bear the burden of proving that dolls are the best alternative for eliciting information about personally-experienced events from children.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice
  • Maggie Bruck · Debra A Poole

    No preview · Article · Sep 2002 · Developmental Review
  • Laura Maria Padilla-Walker · Debra Ann Poole
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    ABSTRACT: Case studies of individuals who claimed to have recovered previously repressed memories of abuse during situations that involved memory cueing revealed that some individuals had discussed abuse with others during an earlier time period. Termed the ‘forgot-it-all-along’ effect, this phenomenon has legal implications for statutes of limitations. Two experiments provide evidence for differences between free recall and more directed (recognition or cued recall) test conditions in the accuracy of memories for previous recall. Participants more often erred by claiming they had not previously remembered recognized (Experiment 1) or cued (Experiment 2) sentences than freely recalled sentences, and this difference was obtained even when the number of remembered sentences was equivalent across conditions (Experiment 2). These studies document that memory for previous recollection is less accurate for cued memories even when remembered events do not produce feelings of shock or surprise. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2002 · Applied Cognitive Psychology
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    Debra Ann Poole · D Stephen Lindsay
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    ABSTRACT: This study explored whether a source-monitoring training (SMT) procedure, in which children distinguished between events they recently witnessed versus events they only heard described, would help 3- to 8-year-olds to report only experienced events during a target interview. Children (N = 132) who witnessed science demonstrations and subsequently heard their parents describe nonexperienced events received SMT before or after a forensic-style interview. SMT reduced the number of false reports that 7- and 8-year-old children reported in response to direct questions but had no impact on the performance of younger children. Combined with earlier results, these data suggest a transition between 3 and 8 years of age in the strategic use of source-monitoring information to support verbal reports, such that only 7- and 8-year-olds generalize training to a difficult memory task that does not include mention of specific alternative sources.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2002 · Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
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    Debra Ann Poole · D. Stephen Lindsay
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined how misleading suggestions from parents influenced children's eyewitness reports. Children (3 to 8 years old) participated in science demonstrations, listened to their parents read a story that described experienced and nonexperienced events, and subsequently discussed the science experience in two follow-up interviews. Many children described fictitious events in response to open-ended prompts, and there were no age differences in suggestibility during this phase of the interview. Accuracy declined markedly in response to direct questions, especially for the younger children. Although the older children retracted many of their false reports after receiving source-monitoring instructions, the younger children did not. Path analyses indicated that acquiescence, free recall, and source monitoring all contribute to mediating patterns of suggestibility across age. Results indicate that judgments about the accuracy of children's testimony must consider the possibility of exposure to misinformation prior to formal interviews.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2001 · Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied

Publication Stats

830 Citations
77.99 Total Impact Points


  • 2015
    • Deakin University
      Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  • 1995-2013
    • Central Michigan University
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Department of Geography
      Mt Pleasant, North Carolina, United States
  • 2012
    • Florida International University
      • Department of Psychology
      University Park, FL, United States
  • 1995-2001
    • University of Victoria
      • Department of Psychology
      Victoria, British Columbia, Canada