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Preschoolers’ disclosures of a secret: Examining effects of question type and rapport building strategies

Conference contribution
Authors Mikaela Magnusson
Sara Landström
Lucy Akehurst
Emelie Ernberg
Published in 13th Meeting of the Nordic Network for research on Psychology and Law. Katowice, Poland: 22-23 september
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Applied Psychology


The aim of the current study was to investigate preschool-aged children’s disclosures of an unfamiliar adult’s transgression. Using a randomised controlled experiment, we examined statements given by preschoolers as a function of two different rapport building interviewing strategies adapted from the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) protocol and the Sequential Interview technique. Although the importance of rapport building during forensic child interviews is often emphasised in the scientific literature, the topic has received little experimental attention. In the present study, we therefore employed a between-subjects design with randomization to two different rapport building strategies. Forty-one preschoolers (aged 3-6 years) participated in an encoding event were a research assistant accidently broke a toy. After a retention interval of approximately 15 minutes, the children were interviewed about the event by one of five trained interviewers. During the rapport building phase, half of the children were asked open-ended questions concerning hobbies the child enjoy (NICHD protocol strategy). The other half were asked to help the interviewer solve and respond to open-ended questions concerning a puzzle (Sequential interview strategy). The children were thereafter asked open-ended (e.g., “Tell me everything that happened in the other room”) and direct questions (e.g., “I heard something happened with a toy, tell me about that”) concerning the encoding event. The data is currently being analysed and preliminary findings will be presented during the NNPL meeting.

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