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41. Do Prosecutors Use Interview Instructions or Build Rapport with Child Witnesses?
Behavioral Sciences and the Law (2015)
  • Elizabeth C, Ahern, University of Cambridge
  • Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Arizona State University
  • Thomas D. Lyon, University of Southern California
This study examined the quality of interview instructions and rapport-building provided by prosecutors to 168 5- to 12-year-old children testifying in child sexual abuse cases, preceding explicit questions about abuse allegations. Prosecutors failed to effectively administer key interview instructions, build rapport, or rely on open-ended narrative producing prompts during this early stage of questioning. Moreover, prosecutors often directed children’s attention to the defendant early in the testimony. The productivity of different types of wh- questions varied, with what/how questions focusing on actions being particularly productive. The lack of instructions, poor quality rapport-building, and closed-ended questioning suggest that children may not be adequately prepared during trial to provide lengthy and reliable reports to their full ability.
  • child abuse,
  • child testimony,
  • child witness
Publication Date
May 18, 2015
Citation Information
Ahern, E.C., Stolzenberg, S.N., & Lyon, T.D. (2015). Do prosecutors use interview instructions or build rapport with child witnesses? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 33, 476-492.