Does the cognitive interview help children to resist the effects of suggestive questioning?

Becky Milne, Ray Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. The first set of aims of the present study concerned event recall and examined; (1) whether the cognitive interview (CI) would enhance event recall when used with children, (2) which category(ies) of event recall might be affected, and (3) where in the interview any CI effect emanates from. The second set of aims concerned suggestibility issues and set out to determine whether (1) the CI increased the resistance of children to suggestive questions, and (2) whether scripts had a role in susceptibility to suggestion.

Methods. Eighty-four 8-10-year-old children were shown a video recording of a magic show. A day later they were interviewed individually using either the CI or a structured interview. A pre-set list of suggestive questions was also given to the children either before or after being interviewed.

Results. Those children interviewed using the CI recalled significantly more correct details pertaining to persons and actions, with no increase in the reporting of erroneous information. These effects were found to emanate from the questioning phase of the CI. In addition, those children interviewed with the CI were more resistant to subsequently asked suggestive questions, especially misleading script-consistent questions.

Conclusions. The CI has been found to be a reliable interviewing technique which not only enhances recall but helps to inoculate children against the effects of misleading questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003


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