Factors affecting children's disclosure of secrets in an investigatory interview

J. Hartwig, Clare Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study aimed to identify how children's understanding of the investigatory interview process influenced their disclosure of secrets. Forty-four 6-year- and 7-year-old children participated in the study. Four short stories were read to each child. The stories were about young children who witnessed an event (e.g. witnessing a person stealing a pizza) and were asked to keep the witnessed event secret, then they were interviewed by an authority figure (e.g. security guard) and asked repeatedly about what they had witnessed. After each story, a series of questions were asked that related to factors that might aid the disclosure of the secret. Three main factors were investigated: children's perception of the interviewer's knowledge of the incident; children's perception of the purpose of the interview; and children's understanding of the purpose of asking repeat questions. Results indicated that a child's perception of how much an interviewer appeared to know about a secret, and whether the child was repeatedly asked about the secret do influence a child's disclosure of a secret. However, there was no effect for the purpose of the interview.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages17
JournalChild Abuse Review
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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