Interviewing young children with props: prior experience matters

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Abstract

This study investigated the effects of prior experience with props used during an interview on young children's recall of an event. In a one-way design, we interviewed 4-year-old children 1 to 2 days after they participated in a staged event. One group of children played with toy replicas of items from the event prior to an interview with the toy props. Another group matched toy replicas to real items from the event prior to an interview with the toy props. A third group coloured before an interview with the toy props, and a fourth coloured before an interview with the real items. Finally, a fifth group coloured before an interview with no props, only verbal cues about the items that had been present. Results indicated that the condition in which children played with toy props prior to the interview had the lowest verbal accuracy during the interview. Children who saw toys for the first time during the interview behaviourally enacted the highest volume of correct information about the event. Implications for interviewing children are discussed. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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