Probing general routines and specific episodes for decision-making purposes in the family law context.

The utility of generic (“what happens”) and episodic (“what happened”) prompts in eliciting children’s reports of their experiences has been considered in previous research, but not within the context of family law interviews. In the current study, 47 children aged 6 to 10 years old were interviewed about what usually happens (generic) and what happened during a particular event (episodic) during aspects of their daily lives. Interview topics were informed by published guidance on family law interviewing. Children’s parents judged the accuracy of their reports. Interviews were coded for episodic and generic language use, accuracy, refusals to answer questions, uncertainty, informativeness, number of details provided, and the novelty of information provided across the generic and episodic phases. Recall order (episodic-first, generic-first) was counterbalanced but no effects of order were apparent. As predicted, children responded to interviewer questions with congruent language use. Parents judged generic accounts to be partially accurate more frequently, and inaccurate less frequently, than episodic accounts. Children said, “I don’t remember” and indicated uncertainty more often to episodic than generic questions, but younger children’s episodic accounts were more informative than were their generic ones. Conversely, generic accounts contained more total details and more novel details than episodic accounts. Few age differences were observed. The results suggest that there is value in asking children for both generic and episodic information about their daily lives when conducting information-gathering interviews for family law purposes, but that generic prompts may be more productive on the whole. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)