Cognitive Interview - Revision


Why the Cognitive Interview was invented

Fisher and Geiselman (1992)

  • They developed the Cognitive Interview (CI), which is based on proven psychological principles concerning effective memory recall.

  • This interviewing technique was found to improve effectiveness of questioning witnesses in a police interview! It was also found easy to apply findings of psychological findings...
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Problems with Standard Police Interviews

These problems lead to the invertion of the CI, as there are many flaws within Eye Witness Testimonies (EWT) and Standard Police Interviews (SPI).

  • A list of standardised questions are used in the interviews

---> the interviewer can't deviate from the questions, therefore making the interview more focused on the interviewer rather tahn the witness

  • The interviewer can effect the answers given by witnesses

---> most interviewers can easily create investigator effects by their subconcious body language. They may also ask misleading questions to confirm their beliefs on a particular aspect

  • Encoding                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ---> sometimes the witness may not of paid full attention to what was happening at the time of a crime (for example), or the overall setting may of been effected by such aspects like the lighting or weather. However, most witnesses become stressed and anxious in such situations, which heavily effects the memory.

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Problems with Standard Police Interviews

  • Retrieval

---> its likely that before the interview, the witness would of had a discussion about what had happened: this can change or fade different parts of the memory, leaving the witness to rather forget certain details or stay focused on what particular part of the memory. At the time of the crime or the interview, some witnesses may also be distracted!

  • Forgetting

---> there is often a lack of rehearsal or a lot of interferance when trying to remember a memory which usually leads to forgetting. Some memories will have decayed whereas others will be inaccurate due to proactive or retroactive interferance.

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The 4 stages of the Cognitive Interview

Report Everything

  • Report every detaol you can even if they seem irrelevant or trivial

  • Witnesses might not realise that some details are importand and details might help them recall significant information

  • recollection could cue the retrieval to another memory

Context Reinstatement

  • Recall the scene, the weather, what ypu were thinking and feeling

  • Recalling how you felt and the context enhance recall

  • provides cues to make memories more accessible (enhances retrieval)
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The 4 stages of the Cognitive Interview

Recall in reverse order

  • Describe the event in reverse order

  • When events are recalled in forward order, witnesses reconstruct based on their schemas- if the order is changed, they are less influenced by their schemas

  • prevents timeline (pre-existing) schemas influencing the recall

Recall from a changed perspective

  • Describe the event as it would have been seen from different viewpoints, not just your own

  • encourages many retrieval paths and distrupts timeline schemas
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Supporting Psychologists

Kohnken (1999)

---> conducted meta-analysis of 53 stufies and found that 34% improvement in generated correct information from using CI (but used college students sample in lab).

Milne and Bull (????)

---> interviwed students and kids and found that the best componenets for generating information are 'report everything' and 'mental reinstatement' when used together.

Mello and Fisher (1996)

---> said that the 'reporting everything' component of the CI was mroe effective than the SPI at helping older witnesses (average age of 72 years old) to recall.

Stein and Memon (2006) ---> they found that CI was better at producing rich and correct information that the SPI, but...

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Disputing Psychologists

Stein and Memon (2006) CONTINUED

---> But the sample of witnesses they used in their experiment were all women clenaners, therefore its not a representative sample.

Kebbel and Wagstaff (1996)

---> found that CI requires more time than is often available. This means that interviewers tend to use deliberate strategies aimed to limit an eyewitnesses report to the minimum amount of information.

Memon (1994) ---> found that police officers need quality training for the CI precedure to be carried out effctively. This costs money from the government!

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Further Evaluation

  • Its difficult to evaluate CI as an independent process as some police forces only use ceratin steps of the overall process (as theres such a range of processes involved).

  • An ehanced version of CI (created by Fisher and and Geiselman in 1992) included a cognitive element where the witness would need to create a mental image of what had happened, and then be questioned about it. This creates problems because theres a greater demand on the interwierer, meaning that the quality and quantity of training becomes a critical issue.
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