Thesis Title

Effects of a Priori Knowledge on the Forensic Interviews of Children

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Matthew Fanetti


Child sexual abuse is frequently assessed by forensic interviews of children. Often, interviewers enter an interview with a priori (i.e., preconceived) information regarding the event in question. Research suggests that interviewers may be more likely to use problematic interviewing techniques, such as leading questions, when a child's report isn't similar to these preconceived notions (Bruck & Ceci, 1997). The purpose of this research project was to further investigate interviewer bias and questioning style and to determine whether interviewers will change their questioning style based on the concordance of their preconceived beliefs with the child's report. Children were interviewed about a story they have heard, presented in computerized format. Students from the Missouri State University Introduction to Psychology research pool interviewed these children about their recollections. Interviewers were given either accurate, inaccurate, or no information about the story the children heard. Researchers will measure the extent to which this information affects their style of questioning, by identifying the occurrence of problematic questions using the Protocol for Evaluating Forensic Interviews of Children (Fanetti, O'Donohue & Bradley, 2006). A one-way ANOVA was used to assess the differences between groups. When comparing the three groups, significant differences were found in the number of problematic interviewing techniques/questions utilized.


effects of a priori knowledge

Subject Categories



© Rachel N. Fondren