Does enhanced rapport-building alter the dynamics of investigative interviews with suspected victims of intra-familial abuse?

  • Irit Hershkowitz
  • Michael E. LambEmail author
  • Carmit Katz
  • Lindsay C. Malloy


Professional guidelines for forensic interviews of children emphasize cognitive factors associated with memory retrieval and pay less attention to emotional factors that may inhibit cooperativeness. Can an additional focus on rapport-building alter the dynamics of interviews with alleged victims of intra-familial abuse, who are often uncooperative? Transcripts of interviews with 199 suspected victims who made allegations when interviewed were coded to identify expressions of interviewer support and children’s reluctance and uncooperativeness in the pre-substantive portions of the interviews. Half of the children were interviewed using a Protocol that emphasized enhanced rapport-building and non-suggestive support, the others using the standard NICHD Protocol. Although there were no group differences in the use of recall-based questions, interviews conducted using the rapport-focused Protocol contained more supportive comments and fewer unsupportive comments. Children interviewed in this way showed less reluctance and the level of reluctance was in turn associated with the number of forensically relevant details provided by the children. A focus on enhanced rapport-building thus altered interview dynamics without changing the appropriateness or forensic riskiness of the questions asked.


Investigative interviews Rapport-building Interviewee cooperation Reluctance, child abuse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irit Hershkowitz
    • 1
  • Michael E. Lamb
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Carmit Katz
    • 2
  • Lindsay C. Malloy
    • 2
  1. 1.University of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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