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The Cognitive Interview.
The cognitive interview technique has been devised by psychologists to improve accuracy of
the witnesses recall in real-life cases.
Designed to enhance retrieval, providing extra cues that might help to jog witnesses'
Context reinstatement Recall the scene, the weather, what you were thinking & feeling
Report everything Every detail, even trivial things.
Recall from changed perspective Recall from different viewpoints, not just your own.
Recall in reverse order Report in different temporal orders, moving backwards &
forwards in time.
Fisher et al (19 87).
Recommended interviews should minimise distractions, actively listen to the witness, ask
open-ended questions, pause after each response, avoid interruption, encourage the use of
imagery, adapt their language to suit the witness & avoid any judgemental comments.
Geiselman et al (19 85).
Showed participants videos of a simulated crime.
Then tested different groups with a cognitive interview, standard interview & interview
under the influence of hypnosis.
Found the cognitive interview elicited more information.
Fisher et al (19 90).
Demonstrated real-life cognitive interview's effectiveness.
Setting in Miami.
Trained detectives to use enhanced cognitive interview with genuine crime witnesses.
Found increased amount of information recalled.
Geiselman (19 99).
Reviewed a number of studies.
Found children under 6 actively reported slightly less accurately in response.
Probably because the instructions can be quite difficult for them to understand.
However effective on children 8 years & up.
The Cognitive interview takes longer to complete than the traditional interview technique.
Kebbell & Wagstaff found many police officers did not use the CI technique in less serious
crimes as they did not have the time to carry out this type of interview. Police often used
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Therefore, while the CI may produce a vast amount of
information, it may not always be practical or helpful in terms of allowing the police to
efficiently investigate incidents, especially those seen as less serious.
Research into the effectiveness of the CI technique has been useful in improving the
interview techniques in Brazil whose police traditionally use interrogation, torture & ill
treatment. Stein & Memon showed university cleaning staff a video of abduction.…read more
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Visual imagery mnemonics;
Method of loci; this is where you associate parts of the material to be remembered with
different paces, or points along a route. For example, a speech can be remembered by
identifying key parts & points with different rooms in a house, & by imagining yourself going
through each room as you give the speech. The rooms act as a retrieval aid.…read more