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Department of Psychology


In this study, we were interested in how interviewers elicit subjective information in investigations of child abuse (e.g., descriptions of thoughts, emotions, opinions). Sixty-one interviews of children aged 4-12 years old were analyzed to determine the amount of subjective information versus non-subjective event details reported, and the type of question that elicited the information. Interviewers elicited more non-subjective than subjective information, although there was more focus on subjective information in the rapport-building phase than in the substantive phase when the allegations were elicited. Interviewer prompts and child responsiveness was congruent such that non-subjective questions elicited more non-subjective information, and subjective interviewer questions elicited more subjective information. The presence of subjective information in children’s testimony can influence children’s credibility, and the results of this study demonstrate that forensic interviewers play a significant part in the level of subjective information children provide.