The effects of interviewer gender and child gender on the informativeness of alleged child sexual abuse victims in forensic interviews

Law Hum Behav. 2003 Apr;27(2):157-71. doi: 10.1023/a:1022595129689.


Most students of forensic interviews have focused on the interrogatory techniques used to elicit information from alleged child abuse victims. We asked how the gender of the interviewer and the gender of the child affected this process. Forensic investigators in three countries used either the NICHD structured interview protocol or local standard interview practices to interview 672 alleged victims who ranged in age from 4 to 14 years. Analyses of the interviews showed significant effects of gender on both the interviewers' behavior and the amount of information provided by children. Female interviewers asked boys more invitations, as well as absolutely and proportionally more suggestive questions, than they did girls, whereas male interviewers interviewed boys and girls similarly. Children's responses varied depending on their gender and age, the gender of the interviewer, and the type of question asked. Girls of all ages provided more information in response to directive questions posed by female rather than male interviewers whereas boys did not respond differently to male and female interviewers. The oldest girls provided more information in response to option-posing questions posed by male interviewers. More information was provided by the younger children in response to suggestive prompts from interviewers of the opposite gender. The gender-of-interviewer effects were attenuated in protocol-guided interviews.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Verbal Behavior