Event report training: An examination of the efficacy of a new intervention to improve children's eyewitness reports


  • This work is based on the doctoral dissertation of the first author under the direction of the second author. We thank Robert Carpenter, Donald Levis and Deanne Westerman for serving as committee members.


This study tested the efficacy of Event Report Training (ERT), a training procedure designed to improve children's memory reports and decrease suggestibility. Children (N = 58) participated in two forensically relevant play events. Two weeks later, children received ERT or participated in control procedures, after which they received a memory interview. Results indicated that ERT decreased suggestibility to abuse-related questions in preschoolers; their responses were highly accurate and age differences were eliminated. ERT did not increase the amount of information preschoolers provided in response to open-ended questions. However, with ERT 7- to 8-year-olds reported 32% more information which included a 32% increase in actions, without an accompanying increase in incorrect information. Due to school-aged children's high accuracy rates, it was impossible to gauge the effectiveness of ERT in reducing suggestibility. The failure to obtain an effect of ERT in preschoolers' open-ended recall is discussed in terms of their cognitive-developmental limitations. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.