“Tell me more about this…”: An examination of the efficacy of follow‐up open questions following an initial account

Kontogianni, Feni; Hope, Lorraine; Taylor, Paul; Vrij, A and Gabbert, Fiona. 2020. “Tell me more about this…”: An examination of the efficacy of follow‐up open questions following an initial account. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 34(5), pp. 972-983. ISSN 0888-4080 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In information gathering interviews, follow-up questions are asked to clarify and extend initial witness accounts. Across two experiments, we examined the efficacy of open-ended questions following an account about a multi-perpetrator event. In Experiment 1, 50 mock witnesses used the timeline technique or a free recall format to provide an initial account. Although follow-up questions elicited new information (18–22% of the total output) across conditions, the response accuracy (60%) was significantly lower than that of the initial account (83%). In Experiment 2 (N = 60), half of the participants received pre-questioning instructions to monitor accuracy when responding to follow-up questions. New information was reported (21–22% of the total output) across conditions, but despite using pre-questioning instructions, response accuracy (75%) was again lower than the spontaneously reported information (87.5%). Follow-up open-ended questions prompt additional reporting; however, practitioners should be cautious to corroborate the accuracy of new reported details.

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Additional Information:

Funding information: University of Portsmouth, Grant/Award Number: N009614


accuracy-informativeness trade-off, eliciting information, follow-up questions, timeline technique

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


6 April 2020Accepted
11 April 2020Published Online
September 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Apr 2020 11:14

Last Modified:

07 Apr 2021 11:59

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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