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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 229350 Find in a Library
Title: Inconsistencies in Children's Recall of Witnessed Events: The Role of Age, Question Format and Perceived Reason for Question Repetition
Journal: Legal and Criminological Psychology  Volume:14  Issue:2  Dated:September 2009  Pages:311-329
Author(s): Pauline Howie; Nadezhda Kurukulasuriya; Laura Nash; Annabel Marsh
Date Published: September 2009
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: In order to test the theory that children being interviewed about past events change their accounts because they perceive adult questioners' dissatisfaction with their initial response, this study examined the effects of question format, a child's age, and direct questioning on children's changing accounts.
Abstract: Study findings show that children do change their responses when adults repeat questions about children's recall of events. Although the mean level of accuracy did not generally deteriorate across question repetition, changes in children's accounts of events were clearly evident across a range of ages and question formats. This finding was not confined to closed "force-choice" or misleading "yes-no" questions. Different patterns were found to changes that moved away from and toward accuracy. For shifts away from accuracy, the study found evidence of developmental progression, with 4-year-olds generally more vulnerable to these shifts than the two older groups. Moreover, these shifts in responses occurred under all four question formats; however, they were rare in response to "yes-correct" questions. In contrast with shifts away from accuracy, shifts toward accuracy did not decrease with age and were generally infrequent when "no-correct" questions were repeated. These shifts were most frequent when "forced-choice" and "yes-correct" questions were repeated. Contrary to expectation, first-answer-unsatisfactory interpretation of repetition did not decrease with age in parallel with the decrease in shifts from accuracy. The two younger age groups rarely explained question repetition as implying that their first answer was unsatisfactory or that they were expected to change; and even in the oldest group, these interpretations were infrequent. A total of 226 4-, 5-, and 7-year-olds were asked 17 recall questions about a recent classroom activity, with 8 target questions repeated in 1 of 4 formats. 3 tables, 2 figures, 46 references, and appended list of questions that contains a mixture of formats in order to provide examples of each format
Main Term(s): Police interview/interrogation of juvenile
Index Term(s): Australia; Child victim interviews; Foreign criminal justice research; Interview and interrogation; Investigative techniques; Police interviewing training
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