The Cognitive Interview

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The Cognitive Interview 

The cognitive interview is designed to take account of well-known cognitive functions and to avoid any chance of leading questions. The cognitive interview is a set of instructions given by the interviewer to the witeness to recall the context of the event in order to recall memory. 

Theoretically, CI is based upon two assumptions - memory of an event is made up of an interrelated system and that there should therefore be several ways of getting to the same point and secondly that retrieval from memory will be more effective if at the time of retrieval the context surrounding the original events can be reinstated. 

Cognitive interviewing is designed to facilitate acccurate recall through a set of instructions. 

Fisher et al. (1989) references four princples of the cognitive interview process:

1. Interview similarity - memory of events like a cime is enhanced when the environment at the interview is similar to the environment at the event. The interviewer should reinstate in the witness's mind the external (e.g. weather), emotional (e.g. fear) and cognitive (e.g. thoughts) features that were experienced at the event.

2. Focused retrieval - one of the roles of the interviewer is to generate focused concentration. There should be no interruption of the chain of tinking and plenty of encouragement.

3. Extensive retrieval - witnesses should be encouraged to make as many retrieval attempts as possible. Even if they say they cannot remember, they should be encouraged to try another angle


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