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Explaining conversation rules to children: an intervention study to facilitate children's accurate responses

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In the past few years there has been increased concern over the role of social influences on children's reports during interviews. It is argued that the number of wrong answers can be reduced by explaining a set of social rules of conversation to children at the beginning of an interview. In the present experiment, the effects of two conversation rules were tested. Children were informed that (a) “I-don't-know” is an acceptable answer, and (b) the interviewer would not be able to help them in answering the questions. A total of 114 children, aged 4 to 10, watched a staged event and were interviewed afterwards. The two factors were systematically varied in the experiment by utilizing a 2 × 2 factorial design. The results supported the hypotheses that introduction of these rules would reduce suggestibility. Our findings have implications for interviewing child witnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-631
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse & Neglect
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996

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