Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906542
 


 



The Effects of Secret Instructions and Yes/No Questions on Maltreated and Nonmaltreated Children's Reports of a Minor Transgression


Elizabeth C. Ahern


University of Cambridge

Stacia N. Stolzenberg


Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Kelly McWilliams


USC Gould School of Law

Thomas D. Lyon


University of Southern California - Gould School of Law; University of Southern California - Department of Psychology

February 24, 2017

34 Behavioral Sciences & the Law 784-802 (2016)
USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS17-8
USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 17-6

Abstract:     
This study examined the effects of secret instructions (distinguishing between good/bad secrets and encouraging disclosure of bad secrets) and yes/no questions (DID: “Did the toy break?” versus DYR: “Do you remember if the toy broke?”) on 262 4- to 9-year old maltreated and nonmaltreated children’s reports of a minor transgression. Over two-thirds of children failed to disclose the transgression in response to free recall (invitations and cued invitations). The secret instruction increased disclosures early in free recall, but was not superior to no instruction when combined with cued invitations. Yes/no questions specifically asking about the transgression elicited disclosures from almost half of the children who had not previously disclosed, and false alarms were rare. DYR questions led to ambiguous responding among a substantial percentage of children, particularly younger children. The findings highlight the difficulties of eliciting transgression disclosures without direct questions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Child Forensic Interview, Truth Induction, Closed-Ended Questions


Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: January 27, 2017 ; Last revised: February 25, 2017

Suggested Citation

Ahern, Elizabeth C. and Stolzenberg, Stacia N. and McWilliams, Kelly and Lyon, Thomas D., The Effects of Secret Instructions and Yes/No Questions on Maltreated and Nonmaltreated Children's Reports of a Minor Transgression (February 24, 2017). 34 Behavioral Sciences & the Law 784-802 (2016); USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS17-8; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 17-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906542

Contact Information

Elizabeth C. Ahern (Contact Author)
University of Cambridge ( email )
Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom
Stacia N. Stolzenberg
Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice ( email )
411 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ Arizona 85004
United States
6024960495 (Phone)
Kelly McWilliams
USC Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Thomas D. Lyon
University of Southern California - Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-0142 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

University of Southern California - Department of Psychology ( email )
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 83
Downloads: 20
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper