The Whole Truth When Do Children Provide the Most Complete Accounts of Their Experiences

As researchers have come to understand the difficulties child victims may have recalling and reporting their experiences, they have focused attention on techniques that may minimize their impact. Before discussing techniques that may be useful for eliciting detailed information from children, however, we must first acknowledge that the nature of the to-be-remembered events may affect children's ability to recall and report them (see Chapter 5 for review; also Cordón, Pipe, Sayfan, Melinder, & Goodman, 2004). This raises, in turn, the question of whether findings from analogue studies using staged stimulus events (varying from short videos to interactive personally experienced events) be generalized to the real-world context to which they are meant to apply. Early analogue studies produced inconsistent findings with respect to the influence of stress on memory, with some studies showing a positive effect and others showing a negative effect or no effect at all (Chapter 5; Christianson, 1992; Cordón et al., 2004; Howe, 1997). The inconsistencies may arise in part from the degree of stress (or distress) experienced, methodological differences in the definition and measurement of stress across studies, differing delay intervals, and differences in the assessment of memory (e.g., central versus peripheral information, reliability versus suggestibility). Studies of children's memories for more salient or stressful events such as naturally occurring disasters (Parker, Bahrick, Lundy, Fivush, & Levitt, 1998), painful medical procedures (e.g., Goodman, Quas, Batterman-Faunce,

Riddlesberger, & Kuhn, 1994, 1997; Steward, O'Connor, Acredolo, & Steward, 1996), and injuries resulting in emergency room visits (Howe, Courage, & Peterson, 1994; Peterson & Bell, 1996; Peterson & Whalen, 2001) suggest that, in general, stress may be associated with increased memory and decreased forgetting over time, particularly with respect to central or core information. Nonetheless, studies involving less stressful experiences still make a valid contribution to forensic psychology, because abuse victims may not always perceive their experiences as painful or traumatic, and children's ignorance or misunderstanding of events may decrease their salience (Pipe et al., in press). Moreover, analogue studies provide a basis for the development of safe and effective forensic interview techniques.

Such techniques include different questioning styles; the use of ancillary aids such as prop items, dolls, and drawings; and the reinstatement of context and pre-interview training. An exhaustive review of the empirical support for these techniques is beyond the scope of this chapter (see reviews by Lamb & Brown, 2006; Pipe, Lamb, Orbach, & Esplin, 2004; Salmon, 2001); rather, we briefly summarize the rationale and evidence for each of these approaches and their effects on children's recall and reporting.

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