The role of repeated interviewing in children's responses to cross-examination-style questioning


Correspondence should be addressed to Sarah O’Neill, Psychology Department, Queens College of the City University of New York, 6530 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367, USA (e-mail: ).


The negative effect of cross-examination-style questioning on children's accuracy is likely to be due to the complex and credibility-challenging questions that characterize the interview. Given that cross-examination occurs after at least one prior interview, however, it is equally possible that repeated interviewing per se impairs children's accuracy, and that the questions asked have little bearing on children's responses. To examine this issue, 5- and 6-year-old children (n= 82) and 9- and 10-year-old children (n= 103) took part in a surprise event and were then interviewed using an analogue of direct examination. Either 1 week or 6 months later, half of the children were re-interviewed with an analogue of cross-examination designed to challenge their direct examination responses. Remaining children were re-interviewed with the same questions that were asked during direct examination. Children's accuracy decreased following their second interview, irrespective of age or delay; however, delay particularly impacted younger children's second interview performance. Children's accuracy was most impaired following a cross-examination-style interview. Overall, cross-examination-style questioning appears to be particularly detrimental to obtaining accurate event reports from children.