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The Self-Administered Interview: a means of improving children's eyewitness performance?

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In order to obtain the most informative and correct statements, witnesses should be heard as soon as possible after the incident. However, this is not always possible. This experimental study investigated whether completing a Self-Administered Interview form (SAI) immediately after a critical event could enhance children's witness performance at a later stage. Children (N = 194, age 11–12) reported their memory of an event in a structured SAI, an open SAI, or did not report their memory (control). Two weeks later, the children were interviewed about the event. Before the interview, half of the children were subjected to social influence from a co-witness. Children's free recall of the event was enhanced by the SAI. More precisely, children in the SAI-Structured condition reported more details about the event than children in the SAI-Open condition and the control condition, without a loss of accuracy. The SAI manipulation did not, however, reduce children's vulnerability to social influence. The results suggest that the use of a SAI might prove a simple and yet effective way of increasing the quality of statements from child witnesses in some situations.

Keywords: Self-Administered Interview; children's memory; eyewitness testimony; rehearsal; social influence

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2011.582844

Affiliations: Department of Psychology,University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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