Assessing the impact of the cognitive interview on children with severe intellectual disabilities

Becky Milne, S. Sharman, Martine Powell, S. Mead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether the cognitive interview (CI) procedure increased event recall in children with severe intellectual disabilities (ID) compared with children with no ID. Forty-six children with and without ID watched a videotaped event; they were aged between eight and 11 years. The next day they were individually interviewed using the CI or a structured interview (SI). Interviews consisted of free recall and specific questions, some of which contained leading or misleading information. The leading and misleading questions determined children’s susceptibility to information presented after the event. Overall, children without ID reported more correct information than children with ID. For all children, the CI led to more correct recall than the SI without increases in incorrect details or confabulations. Although the CI did not decrease children’s susceptibility to the misleading questions compared with the SI, children without ID disagreed with more of the misleading suggestions than children with ID. These results suggest that the CI may indeed be a valuable tool to elicit information from very vulnerable witnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Development, Disability and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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