A comparison of mental and physical context reinstatement in forensic interviews with alleged victims of sexual abuse


  • This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the United States.


Forensic interviews with 142 alleged victims of sexual abuse, ranging from 4.0 to 13.5 years of age, were conducted under three different interviewing conditions: at the scene of the incidents (Physical Context Reinstatement; PCR group), in the investigator's office with mental context reinstating instructions (MCR group), and in the office without contextual cueing (Control group). Children in the PCR, MCR, and Control groups did not differ significantly with respect to the total number of informative details reported. Children in the MCR condition provided more detailed responses to the main invitation and in their first narrative than did children in the PCR condition, however. They also provided proportionally more detailed responses to open-ended invitations and fewer details in response to directive prompts than did children in the two other conditions. The MCR procedures were thus associated with greater improvements in the quality of information retrieval than were the PCR procedures. In all interviewing conditions, children aged 7 to 13 years provided significantly more details than 4- to-6-year-old children did. The youngest children provided fewer details in response to invitations and directive utterances, and proportionally more details in response to option-posing and suggestive utterances. No significant interactions between age and interviewing condition were apparent. Published in 2002 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.