The Impact of Multiple Interviews on the Narrative Coherence, Accuracy and Credibility of Children’s Testimonies

Zsofia Szojka

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The lack of forensically meaningful measures of the quality of children’s testimony that can be used in both field and laboratory studies prevents reaching strong conclusions about the impact of multiple interviews. Drawing on theory and research from cognitive science and forensic psychology, a new model of narrative coherence, consisting of the completeness, consistency and connectedness of children’s recall, was developed to assess the quality of testimonies elicited in multiple interviews.

The thesis describes three studies evaluating the impact of multiple forensic interviews on the narrative coherence, accuracy and credibility children’s testimony. Study 1 revealed that multiple interviews impact the narrative coherence of forensic testimonies provided by child witnesses positively, through increasing their completeness without decreasing their consistency or connectedness. Children’s age was associated with the completeness and connectedness of their recall. To overcome the limitations of field research, children’s recall of a staged experiment was analysed in Study 2. Children interviewed twice provided equally accurate descriptions as participants interviewed a single time in a control group matched for delay, however, the 1-month delay between interviews resulted in a slight but significant decrease in accuracy. Study 3 aimed to determine whether the benefits of multiple interviews found in Study 1 and Study 2 affect witness credibility. Mock jurors rated the witness in a fictional child abuse case as more reliable and competent and were more likely to convict the defendant when presented with two interviews rather than one. Credibility ratings and verdict decisions were also associated with jurors’ gender and the consistency of the witness testimony.

In conclusion, results support the view that multiple interviews provide an effective method of increasing the completeness and credibility of children’s testimony. The accuracy of children’s testimony was found to be compromised by delay, rather than multiple interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • La Rooy, David, Supervisor
  • Meek, Rosie, Supervisor
Award date1 Jul 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020


  • child witnesses
  • investigative interviews
  • multiple interviews
  • narrative coherence
  • credibility

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