Peterson, C., Pardy, L., Tizzard-Drover, T., & Warren, K. (in press). When initial interviews are delayed a year: Effect on children's 2-year recall. Law & Human Behavior.


Three- to nine-year-old children were interviewed about a medical emergency (injury requiring hospital ER treatment) two years after it occurred. Half of the children had been interviewed shortly after injury as well as 6 and 12 months later, while the remaining children had had only one prior interview a year after injury. There was remarkably little long-term deterioration in memory by both groups. Having a delayed initial interview had two effects, and both were relevant only to the harder-to-remember hospital treatment event: (a) The late-interview group was less accurate, and (b) early-interview children had more extensive free recall, suggesting that multiple prior interviews teach children the 'rules of the memory game' when they are asked open-ended questions.' Forensic implications are discussed.