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47. The productivity of wh- prompts when children testify.
Applied Cognitive Psychology (2016)
  • Samantha J. Andrews, University of Cambridge
  • Elizabeth C Ahern, University of Cambridge
  • Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Arizona State University
  • Thomas D. Lyon, University of Southern California
Wh- prompts (what, how, why, who, when, where) vary widely in their specificity and accuracy, but differences among them have largely been ignored in research examining the productivity of different question-types in child testimony. We examined 120 6- to 12-year-olds’ criminal court testimony in child sexual abuse cases to compare the productivity of various wh- prompts. We distinguished among what/how prompts, most notably: what/how-happen prompts focusing generally on events, what/how-dynamic prompts focusing on actions or unfolding processes/events, what/how-causality prompts focusing on causes and reasons, and what/how-static prompts focusing on non-action contextual information regarding location, objects, and time. Consistent with predictions, what/how-happen prompts were the most productive, and both what/how-dynamic prompts and wh- prompts about causality were more productive than other wh- prompts. Prosecutors asked proportionally more what/how-dynamic prompts and fewer what/how-static prompts than defense attorneys. Future research and interviewer training may benefit from finer discrimination among wh- prompts.
  • child abuse,
  • child testimony,
  • child witness,
  • wh prompts
Publication Date
January 22, 2016
Citation Information
Andrews, S.J., Ahern, E.C. Stolzenberg, S.N., & Lyon, T.D. (2016). The productivity of wh- prompts when children testify. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30, 341-349.