Children’s testimony is often critical to the initiation of legal proceedings in abuse cases. In forensic interviews, the expression of emotions can powerfully enhance both the quality of children’s statements and perceptions that their statements are coherent and credible. However, children rarely express their emotions when reporting abusive events. The Revised The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Protocol (RP) was designed to emphasize socioemotional communication during forensic interviews and thus should be associated with more extensive and diverse expressions of emotions by alleged victims of abuse. The present study focused on forensic interviews (178 using the Revised and 100 using the Standard NICHD Protocol) with victims of physical child abuse whose allegations were corroborated using independent evidence. Detailed content coding showed that the RP was associated with the expression of more different emotions, more expression of abuse-related emotions, and more expression of emotions related to the interview context. Emotional expressiveness was associated with increased informativeness, and the association between the type of protocol and informativeness was fully mediated by emotional expressiveness. These results suggest that the Revised Protocol facilitates the expression of emotions by alleged victims of abuse in a way that enhances the value of children’s testimony in multiple ways.
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- children’s eyewitness testimony
- interview techniques
- interviewing children