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Interview Tactics to Avoid Suggestive Questioning


Jessica Green

on 12 May 2011

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Transcript of Interview Tactics to Avoid Suggestive Questioning

Interview Tactics to Avoid Suggestive Questioning ak Suggestive Questioning often negatively influences witness testimonials Can children distinguish false memories from real memories? Can misleading questions influence their memory of events? It has been demonstrated
that by the age of 5,
children are often able
to use conceptual knowledge
of intention and false-
belief, highlighting the
connection between the
understanding of mental
states and their suggestibility.
(Astington, 1991; Chandler &
Hala, 1994) This ability to conceptualize
thoughts is called the Theory
of Mind, which allows people
to make sense of behavior.
(Astington, Harris & Olson, 1998) Studies show that those
who demonstrate an
understanding of false
belief and the intention
of the interviewer are
more resilient to suggestive
(Welch-Ross, 1999) Simultaneously,studies
demonstrate that when asked
open-ended, free-recall
questions, people tend to give
a more accurate testimony than
when asked misleading questions.
And when asked more specific
questions, though people give
more information, it is largely
(Bruck & Ceci, 1996; Lamb, Sternberg,
& Esplin, 1995; Saywitz & Snyder, 1996) Chan and Okamoto (2006) conducted
an interview experiment with 40
kindergarteners. They were shown a short
video clip and then were asked a free-recall
question, some yes/no specific questions,
then the same free-recall question. Some
questions were leading questions, others
were biased-leading questions. One group
was notified of the intention of the interviewer,
another was told that the interviewer had
an initial bias to the video clip. The results
indicated that children with mental-state
information would respond more accurately
to questions and resist suggestive questions. Pezdek, Sperry, and Owens (2007) examined the
misinformation effect and the effect of forced
confabulation in post-event suggestion. 113
psychology students participated in the study in
which they were shown a 5 minute video clip
then asked to complete 22 open-ended questions
(16 answerable, 6 unanswerable) upon completion.
A week later, each student took the same questionnaire.
The researchers concluded that pressing for answers
results in more correct and incorrect responses from
eyewitnesses. This is significant because the researchers are
left to make ethical choices about the
credibility of the data. Is it better to attain more valid information
combined with false information, or mostly
valid information with minimal incorrect
witness testimony? Billings, Taylor, Burns, Corey, Garven and Wood (2006)
examined whether social reinforcement would urge
children to admit guilt to self-incriminating
accusations. 99 children participated, and were
interviewed over a 3 day period about a toy that
allegedly went missing. There were 5 types of questions
utilized: filler (to which everyone was supposed to
say "yes"), guilty knowledge, direct witnessing,
confession and leading correct. The researchers
conclusion suggests that positive reinforcement may
elicit false admissions from children, especially at
a younger age. Conclusions Theory of Mind and open-ended questions
that are not leading procure the most
accurate information in testimonials. Children are highly susceptible to
suggestive questioning. Further research should be
conducted on adults and the
elderly, because there is no
evidence indicating that
they are any less susceptible. The acquired data is imperative
in the field of forensic
psychology to ensure that the
proper people are incriminated
and to raise awareness of the
importance of being receptive
and resistive to suggestive
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