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Interrogative suggestibility: interactions between interviewees self-esteem and interviewer style

Baxter, Jim and Jackson, Marianne and Bain, Stella (2003) Interrogative suggestibility: interactions between interviewees self-esteem and interviewer style. Personality and Individual Differences, 35 (6). pp. 1285-1292. ISSN 0191-8869

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Abstract

Levels of self-esteem may interact with influences on interrogative suggestibility identified by Baxter and Boon (2000) and Bain and Baxter (2000). The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of variations in interviewer manner on scores obtained on the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales GSS 1 (Gudjonsson, 1984) from participants with high and low levels of self-esteem. The study had a two-factor between-participants design. Equal numbers of participants with high and low self-esteem were tested on the GSS 1 by an interviewer whose behaviour was either 'Abrupt' or 'Friendly'. Results showed a main effect for self-esteem with high levels being associated with reduced suggestibility and low levels associated with increased suggestibility. No significant main effect was found for condition: overall responses were not significantly different between Friendly and Abrupt conditions. However, a significant interaction was observed. High self-esteem participants demonstrated reduced suggestibility from Friendly to Abrupt condition, whereas low self-esteem participants' scores increased from Friendly to Abrupt. The results are discussed in terms of the importance interviewers should attach to carefully controlling their manner when assessing or interviewing potentially vulnerable witnesses.