Patterns of Nonverbal Rapport Behaviors Across Time in Investigative Interviews with Children

  • Veronica Johnston
  • Sonja P. BrubacherEmail author
  • Martine Powell
  • Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz
Original Paper


The present study evaluated whether the strength of relationship between child nonverbal behaviors (expressivity, attention, and coordination) across time points varied as a function of interviewer nonverbal behaviors (expressivity, attention, and coordination) under supportive versus neutral interviewing conditions. Children (n = 123) participated in an event where they were involved in breaking some rules. Three to four days later they were interviewed by either a supportive or neutral adult interviewer. Interviews were video recorded and nonverbal behaviors of both children and interviewers were coded. Multi-level modeling revealed that optimal interviewer nonverbal behaviors were predictive of optimal child nonverbal behaviors at the end of the interview. In contrast, explicitly manipulated interviewer supportiveness was related to suboptimal displays of child nonverbal behavior. Interestingly, as the interview progressed, optimally attentive interviewing was associated with suboptimal child expressivity scores. Likewise, displays of optimal interviewer coordination were associated with suboptimal child coordination scores over time. The implications of the findings for nonverbal behavior literature and professionals talking with children about sensitive information are discussed.


Nonverbal behavior Rapport Support Optimal experience Interviewer Child 



This research was conducted for the Doctoral dissertation of VAJ. The authors are grateful to the children and schools who participated, as well as to Evangeline Wai and Elizabeth Beyer for assistance with coding. The research was unfunded.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica Johnston
    • 1
  • Sonja P. Brubacher
    • 2
    Email author
  • Martine Powell
    • 2
  • Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Investigative Interviewing, Griffith Criminology InstituteGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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