Brubacher, S. P., Peterson, C., La Rooy, D., Dickinson, J. J., & Poole, D. A. (2019). How children talk about events: Implications for eliciting and analyzing eyewitness reports. Developmental Review, 51, 70-89. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2018.12.003.
The development of best-practice standards for conducting forensic interviews of children is the most visible contribution to emerge from research on young witnesses’ testimony (Lamb, Brown, Hershkowitz, Orbach, & Esplin, 2018; La Rooy et al., 2015; Saywitz, Lyon, & Goodman, 2018). But there is another useful product from this research: Around the world, laboratories house thousands of transcripts which document how children typically talk about events. Behind the scenes, it is the patterns in these transcripts that are valuable to the interviewers and attorneys who contact eyewitness and memory experts with questions. Oftentimes, these questions center on a specific feature of a child’s report, and the issue is whether that feature is characteristic of children’s event narratives or a concerning finding that reflects degraded memory, outside influence, or some other phenomenon. Understanding how children talk about events in their lives is especially relevant for forensic cases but has numerous applications, from advising mandated reporters to helping developmental researchers elicit children’s experiences. For this paper, we reviewed published findings and revisited transcript sets to construct fifteen principles that capture how children talk about events.