Tizzard-Drover, T., & Peterson, C. (2004). The influence of an early interview on long-term recall: A comparative analysis. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18, 727-745.


Because of burgeoning participation by children in forensic situations there is significant concern about children’s memory for stressful events. Influence of timing of the first interview and interview frequency on long-term recall were evaluated by comparing three groups of 3- to 9-year-olds one year after an injury requiring ER treatment. One group had one interview, a year after injury; another group had two interviews, immediately and a year later; the third group had three interviews, immediately, 6 months and a year after injury. The type of event and timing of the initial interview influenced completeness and accuracy of recall after one year. All children showed extensive recall but having an immediate interview was associated with greater completeness and accuracy for 3-4-year-olds but not older children. This suggests a social influence: a highly structured and organized early interview may have beneficial effects on memory for preschoolers. Implications for questioning and testimony are discussed.