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A Case Study of Witness Consistency and Memory Recovery Across Multiple Investigative Interviews


Michael E. Lamb, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ, UK.



Access to audio recordings of five interviews (Interviews 2–6), and to the interviewer's contemporaneous notes during an initial unrecorded interview, made it possible to assess consistency across repeated attempts by a 9-year-old to describe her older sister's abduction from their shared bedroom. Information provided in each of the interviews was systematically analysed to determine whether each unit of information was new, consistent (repeated) or contradictory in relation to earlier reported information and whether any informative detail provided in the witness' initial interview was subsequently omitted. In addition, the witness' accounts were compared with details provided by the victim upon her rescue. This case analysis is particularly informative in light of widespread professional concerns about the effects of repeated interviewing on the quality and accuracy of children's accounts of experienced events. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.