diSessa - C&I 2007

An Interactional Analysis of Clinical Interviewing
Cognition and Instruction
2007, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 523-565

Andrea A. diSessa
University of California, Berkeley, California

Clinical interviewing is viewed here as a social interactional pattern in order to examine the nature and limits of the technique as a means of scientific data acquisition. I defend the technique against criticisms that it is ecologically suspect and prone to systematic biases, mainly due to influence of the interviewer on the interviewee or to unnatural and biasing interactional patterns. The Central Hypothesis of this work is that at least some forms of clinical interviewing are derivative of naturally occurring patterns of activity and interaction. As such, they do not warrant unnecessary a priori suspicion. More importantly, this view leads to avenues of empirical examination that allow determination and checking of the character of the clinical interaction, which bears directly on how and when data extracted in clinical contexts are scientifically valid. Data from an extensive corpus involving a single subject are used to illustrate and substantiate claims.