CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Lyon & Henderson on Interviewing Children

Thomas D. Lyon and Hayden Henderson (University of Southern California Gould School of Law and USC Gould School of Law) have posted Increasing True Reports Without Increasing False Reports: Best Practice Interviewing Methods and Open-Ended WH- Questions (Forthcoming, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Advisor) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A consensus has emerged among forensic interviewers that narrative practice rapport building, introducing the allegation with a “why” question about the reason for the interview, and eliciting allegation details with invitations (broad free recall questions) constitute best practice. These methods are favored because they increase true reports with little risk of increasing false reports. We discuss how interviewers can maintain this balance with open-ended wh- questions designed to elicit details often missing from children’s narratives. Conversely, we show that recognition questions (including yes/no and forced-choice questions) pose risks of impairing children’s productivity and accuracy, and discuss how future research can find ways of replacing recognition questions with open-ended wh- questions.

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