Effects of Interviewer Support on Maltreated and At-Risk Children’s Memory and Suggestibility

Mitchell L. Eisen, Gail S. Goodman, Jessica Diep, Marianne T. Lacsamana, Julie Olomi, Deborah Goldfarb, Jodi A. Quas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study examined the effects of interviewer support on the memory and suggestibility of children (N = 71), all of whom were involved in child maltreatment investigations. This was accomplished by questioning 3- to 12-year olds (66% African American) about a game played individually with an experimenter at the end of the maltreatment investigation, so that the results did not affect any evaluations or legal proceedings. After the game, the children were interviewed in a warm and engaging high support manner or in a relatively formal and withdrawn low support fashion--the latter, likely considered by some as “neutral” in child forensic interviews. Typical age effects emerged overall; for example, with the preschool (compared to school-aged) children providing fewer correct units of information in free recall and making more errors to specific and misleading questions. However, findings also varied in relation to interviewer support and type of question. To specific questions, older (but not younger) children in the low (compared to high) interviewer support condition made more omission errors, possibly due to the interviewer’s low support resulting in a “no bias” for older children in answering these questions. To misleading questions, younger (but not older) children in the high (compared to low) support condition made significantly more commission errors. The elevated commission error rate in the high support group appeared to be driven by a small number of 3- and 4-year-olds who had a “yes-bias” when answering misleading questions. Implications for children’s accuracy in maltreatment investigations and for children’s psychological and physical security are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-78
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice
Volume2
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 30 2019

Keywords

  • Children
  • Forensic interviews
  • Interviewer support
  • Memory
  • Suggestibility

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Interviewer Support on Maltreated and At-Risk Children’s Memory and Suggestibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this