Memon & Higham (1999)


A review of the cognitive interview- theories M&H

Interviewing techniques should incorporate psychological findings about memory.

Research in ue-dependent forgetting has shown that memory traces contain many different types of information: some internal factors such as mood and psychological state and some external cues such as smell and colour of surroundings. 

According to the encoding specifity principle, the retrieval of a memory trace is more likely if the information in a cue overlaps with the information in a memory trace. 

Retrieval can be improved by using as many cues as possible.

The implication for police procedure is that the witness interview should use cues to stimulate memory while at the same time avoiding leading questions. 

Questioning produces much better recall if it follows the chronological order of events rather than asking in any order. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Background

Traditional technique used by police for witness interviews- standard interview. 

Standard interview involves a period of free recall followed by specific questions asked by the police officer. 

Has 4 stages 

1. orientation 

2. listening 

3. questions and answers 

4. advice 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Background (Geiselman)

Geiselman (1985) developed the cognitive interview, an alternative to the standard interview. It takes into account psychologica findings about cue-deoendent forgetting and has four stages designed to stimulate as many cues as possible in order to maximise different retrieval routes: 

Stage 1: reinstate the context 

Stage 2: recall events in reverse order 

Stage 3: Report anything they can remember 

Stage 4: Describe events from someone else's point of view 

Geiselman compared a cognitive interview, with a standard and hypnotic interview. Although this was lab-based research, it did suggest that the cognitive interview can produce more correct details without increasing witness error. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Background (Fisher)

Trained detectives from Miami Police Department to use the cognitive interview. compared to the standard procedure used, the cognitive interview produced 46% increase in recall and 90% accuracy. 

The findings suggest that the cognitive interview is more effective than the standard interview, producing higher recall and reducing errors 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Research method

Research article which critiques the cognitive interview. 

Discussion is organised around 4 themes:

1. the effectiveness of various components of the CI.

2. the relationship between the Ci and the other interview methoss such as the guided memory interview (GMI), the standard interview and the structured interview i.e comparison interviews. 

3. different measures of memory performance.

4. the effect of training quality on interview performance. 

Comments are made on some of the theoreticaland methodological issues to be considered in CI research and the practical considerations relating to the use of the CI in the field. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

Section 1 : the effectiveness of various components of the cognitive interview 

One of the most frequently used components of the CI is for the witness to mentall restruct the physical (external) and personal (internal) contexts which existed at the time of the crime: mental context reinstatement. the witness can help the witness recreate the context by asking them to form an image or impression of the environmental aspects of the original scene (e.g location of objects in the room), to comment on their emotional reactions and feelings at the time, and to  describe any sounds, smells and physical conditions (hot, humid, smoky etc)

increasing the overlap between test context and the context of acquisition (i.e contextual reinstatement) will ensure the operation of effective retrieval cues and maximise memory retrieval. 

there is some evidence to suggest that context reinstatement is a technique that witnesses spontaneously use to remember events. 

2nd technique is to ask the witness to report everything. Encouraged to report in full without screensing out anything they consider irrelevant. May be valuable in putting together details from yielf information that may be valuable in putting together details from different witnesses. 

3rd technique is to ask for recall from a variety of perspectives, encouraging witnesses in the victim's shoes (if not already the victim) The theoretical assumption is that a change in perspective forces a change  in  retrieval description, thus aloowing additional info to be redalled. 

4th component is the instruction to make retrieval attempts from different starting points. Witnesses usually feel they have to start at the beginning. Assumed to change the retrieval description.  

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

Section 2: (a) isolating the effective components of the CI

To find out if the CI works- isolate and test the effectiveness of each of the components. 

Memon- In a study using 5 & 8 year old children as witnesses interviewd the children about a staged event using 1/3 of the cognitive techniques i.e context reinstatement (CR), chance perspective (CP) and change order (CO).

As a control, a fourth group was included in order to test the hyposthesis that the increase in recall with CI may be a result of the additional retrieval attempts when each new instruction is applied. The hypothesis was supported and there were no significant differences in recall performance across CP,CR,CO and control groups. 

Milne extended the studies conducted by Memon by comparing the full CI procedure with each of the cognitive techniques, including 'report everything' (RE) instruction. She also included the control group who were merely asked to make a 2nd retrieval attempt. Overall she found no differences in number of correct or incorrect details across the four cognitive conditions. She found that the context reinstatement is the most effective component of the CI. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

(b) the enhanced CI- contextual reinstatement accompanied by the cautious use of imagery that (a) limits the possibility of source monitoring confusions and (b) is non-suggestive, seems to be the only effective cognitive technique. 

combines the four cognitive techniques with some strategies for improving interviewer-witness communication and flow of information in the interview. Several techniques used to facilitate the communication, including the 'transfer of control' of the interview from the interviewer to the witness- put into place during the rapport-building phase in several wats, e.g through open questions which request an elaborated response from the witness. 

During the training of student and police interviewers on the CI techniques, Memon noted that the various elements of the CI work interactively. E.g when building rapport with the witness: if this is done appropriately, the witness will be more relaxed and open to using the various cognitive techniques. By not interrupting the witness and pausing after questions, the interviewer can facilitate contextual reinstatement. Therefore, can be suggested that the effectiveness of the CI is due to improved communication, improved access/retrieval of information.

A distinction is drawn between conceptual image codes (an image stored as a concept or dictionary definition) and pictoriak codes (the mental representation of an image) When contextual reinstatement is accompanied by instructions to imagine the parts of the events the witness's images are probed with questions, further details (correct or incorrect) are elicited.

The effects of imagery on the retrieval of information depend on a number of factors, such as reality monitoring, task demands and the ease with which an image may come to mind. Research by Marcia Johnson- suggests that imaging could potentially be problematic to accurate memory performance, therefore, imagery instructions shoukd be used with some caution until there is betterunderstanding of how they influence source monitoring and corresponding decision process.

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

(c) comparison interviews 

In attempt to evaluate the efficiencey of the CI, it has been compared with other interview procedures such as the typical police interview (standard interview), the guided memory interview, the structured interview and hypnosis. this article doesn't focus on hypnosis because of the lack of evidence that it can facilitate recall, the controversy surrounding the use of hypnosis and the ambiguity about exactly what techniques are used in a hypnosis interview. Instead, recent reviews by Fisher and Das Gupta, which compares the cognitive interview with hypnosis are considered. 

The standard interview 

The CI offers a clear advantage over the standard interview as undesirable elements are absent. Standard interview doesn't provide a tight experimental control against the effects of training and interviewer motivation. Memon and Higham suggest using the standard interview as a xomparison group to evaluate the efficacy of the CI, especially when the research is focused on determining the specific effects that the CI technique might have on memory. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

The structured interview and cognitive interview

SI interviewers are persuaded to build rapport with the the witness, to allow the witness the opportunity to give narrative description and provide ample time for interviewees to respond 

The SI is non-interruptive, expansive, confidence building and uses active listening, open questions. 

These aspects are also seen in CI, however CI uses contextual reinstatement, therefore the amount of information elicited is more. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

Section 3: Measures of memory 

Strong point of CI- employment of well-established labatroy principles.

In most studies, performance is measured in terms of the percentage of correct interview statements or the number of correct and incorrect statements. 

A potential problem with limiting research to these measures is that it ignores the amount and the nature of unreported informaton, which is important to determining the efficacy of any interview procedure as is the reported information. 

The CI may affect an interviewee's report criterion, e.g the instruction to 'report everything' may cause people to lower their response criterion and report more info than  they would normally 

Koriat and Goldsmith article- suggests that a person retrieves candidate answers from long-term memory in response to an input question (retrieval). The probability that the best candidate answer is correct is then assessed (monitoring) and this probability is compared to a response criterion probability set by situational demands and payoff (control).

This model predicts that as a response criterion becomes more conservative, accuracy should improve. 

Criterion- extent to which a measure relates to the outcome 

SI compared to CI- shows that the output is generally greater for CI, and no associated loss of accuracy. Suggests that the techniques employed by CI improve retrieval, so the loss of accuracy due to the criterion shift is compensated for. 

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Outline of the article

Section 4: Quality of training 

Criticism for early studies of CI- the amount and quality of training that interviewers were given wasn't specified. Provided with a set of instructions rather than trained. 

Memon studies found that cognitive interviewers reported that they found the procedure more demanding and exhausting than SI. 

It's likely that the attitudes. motivation and experience of the interviewers play a big role in determining the kinds of resuts obtained with the CI. 

M & H- make the suggestions for training: 

1) interviewers should be given adequate training in CI techniques- a 2- day training programme is recommended. 

2) a possible strategy would be to direct training to a select group of officers.

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Memon & Higham (1999)- Conclusions

Research into the effectiveneess of the CI remains inconclusive. 

There is a need for further investigating the particular effects the CI has on memory as well as how the various elements of the CI work. 

Interviewers differ in their ability and motivation to conduct a good interview. If research is limited to comparisons between interviews with established protocols, such as CI and SI, the problem of the interviewer variability is not alleviated. 

Further research is needed to improve the understanding of the conditions under which the CI procedure may not be useful as a forensic tool.

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