Psychology student Samantha Andrews has presented the findings of a second year undergraduate project at a major international conference.

Sam addressed the European Association of Psychology and Law on ‘The effects of age and delay on responses to repeated questions in forensic interviews with children alleging sexual abuse’.

In the research Sam scrutinized transcripts of forensic interviews conducted with children after they had allegedly experienced single incidents of sexual abuse. She then coded the interviews to look for incidents where interviewers repeated questions. As Sam explains:

“The research showed that when interviewers repeated questions to challenge children’s previous answers or formulated repeated questions using suggestive questions or option-posing prompts, children were more likely to respond with contradictory information. Since contradictory responses may reduce children’s testimonial credibility, the paper concludes that interviewers need special training to avoid using such question constructions when repeating questions.

Interestingly, even though younger children were asked more repeated questions than older children, age and the length of the delay since the suspected abuse did not affect the reasons for repetition, the ways questions were repeated, and how the children responded.”

The research, co-authored with Professor Michael Lamb, has recently been accepted for publication in the prestigious international journal Law and Human Behavior, a particularly noteworthy achievement for a second year undergraduate research project.

Sam, who starts her third year in October, is keen to pursue a career in academic research after her undergraduate studies.

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