The impact of multiple interviews on the accuracy and narrative coherence of children’s memories

Zsofia A. Szojka*, Annabelle Nicol, Non Davis Frenguelli, David La Rooy, Hayden Henderson

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    This study investigated the accuracy and narrative coherence of children’s accounts of a staged event across two interviews in comparison to a control condition to discern between the effects of repeated recall and delay between interviews. Seventy-six 8–11-year-olds took part in a first aid training session. Half of the children were randomly assigned to be interviewed using open-ended questions twice, one week after the event and five weeks after the event, whilst the other half were interviewed only once, five weeks after the event. Supporting the hypotheses, children reported more details over the course of two interviews than in a single interview either 1-week or 5-weeks after the event, and details that remained consistent across the two interviews were more accurate than reminisced details. The increased completeness of children’s accounts in two interviews was accompanied by an increase in the use of markers of causal-temporal connectedness. The hypothesis regarding the negative effect of delay on the accuracy of children’s testimony was partially supported, as details reported in the first, 1-week interview were more accurate than details in the single 5-week interview. Results demonstrate that multiple interviews can increase the narrative coherence of children’s testimony without decreasing their accuracy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)980-1003
    Number of pages24
    JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
    Volume28
    Issue number10
    Early online date18 Oct 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2022

    Keywords

    • Children's memory
    • Multiple interviews
    • Narrative coherence
    • Accuracy

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