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Does a longer rapport-building phase improve preschoolers’ witness capabilities during investigative interviews?

Conference contribution
Authors Mikaela Magnusson
Emelie Ernberg
Sara Landström
Malin Joleby
Lucy Akehurst
Julia Korkman
Published in 2019 Annual conference of the European association of psychology and law abstract book
ISBN 978-84-120731-9-5
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Purpose: Interviewing young children in a legal context can be a difficult task. Recent developments in the field have suggested that increased rapport building during the initial phase of child interviews may improve children’s witness capabilities. The present experiment was designed to investigate if time spent during the pre-substantive phase of an interview (long rapport building phase vs. short rapport building phase) would influence preschool-aged children’s statements about experienced and non-experienced events. We predicted that children interviewed with a longer rapport building phase would provide more details about a target event and exhibit a higher accuracy rate compared to 2children interviewed with a shorter rapport building phase. Participants/protocols: A total of 119 children (age 3 to 6 years) participated in the study. Beyond the rapport building manipulation, the interview structure followed the original NICHD protocol for interviewing children (Lamb et al., 2008). Method: The present experiment used a 2 (Rapport building time: Long vs. short) x 2 (Target event: Had experienced the event vs. had not experienced the event) between-subjects design. Approximately one week before the interviews took place, half of the children experienced a staged event involving a visit from two pirates at their preschool. All children were thereafter interviewed about the staged event (both children who did meet the pirates, and children who did not meet the pirates). During their interview, the children were randomised to one of the two rapport building conditions. The interviews were conducted by eleven trained research assistants who were unaware of the aim and hypotheses of the study. Results and conclusions: The data is currently being analysed and the main findings will be presented at the conference.

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