Children’s Signaling of Incomprehension: The Diagnosticity of Practice Questions During Interview Instructions.
Henderson, Hayden M. Lyon, Thomas D.
Published: February 2021
Vol. 26, No. 1 , p. 95-104
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Tel: 800-818-7243 805-499-0721 805-499-9774 (order pubs)
Fax: 800-583-2665 805-499-0871
Forensic interviewers are routinely advised to instruct children that they should indicate when they do not understand a question. This study examined whether administering the instruction with a practice question may help interviewers identify the means by which individual children signal incomprehension. We examined 446 interviews with children questioned about abuse, including 252 interviews in which interviewers administered the instruction with a practice question (4- to 13-year-old children; Mage = 7.7). Older children more often explicitly referred to incomprehension when answering the practice question and throughout the interviews, whereas younger children simply requested repetition or gave “don’t know” responses, and individual children’s responses to the practice questions predicted their responses later in the interviews. Similarly, older children were more likely to seek confirmation of their understanding of interviewers’ questions and to request specification. The results highlight the need for interviewers to test and closely monitor younger children’s responses for ambiguous signs of incomprehension. (Author abstract)
CHILD ABUSE; VICTIMS; EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE; SEXUAL ABUSE; FORENSIC INTERVIEWS; COGNITIVE INTERVIEWS; CHILD WITNESSES; INTERVIEWING CHILDREN; CREDIBILITY; EVIDENCE COLLECTION