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Interviewing suspects and witnesses:


Title: No Slide Title Author: Graham Hole Last modified by: Graham Hole Created Date: 10/22/2002 9:10:46 AM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interviewing suspects and witnesses:

Interviewing suspects and witnesses
Problems in interviewing suspects and
witnesses Interviewing witnesses may distort
their evidence. Interview techniques are not
always optimal for extracting information from
witnesses. Interviewing suspects may lead to
false confessions.
The Cognitive Interview technique (Geiselman et
al 1984) Based on psychological principles (a)
Tulving and Thomson's (1973) "Encoding
Specificity Principle" - items are encoded
together with features of the context within
which they occurred. Compatibility (overlap)
between encoding and retrieval contexts
facilitates recall.   (b) May be several
retrieval paths to an encoded event, so that
information inaccessible by one retrieval cue
might be accessible with a different cue (Tulving
1974 Anderson and Pichert 1978). 
Original Cognitive Interview's components (a)
Context reinstatement - (i) emotional aspects
("How were you feeling at the time?") (ii)
perceptual features ("picture the room how did
it smell, what could you hear?")   (b) Recalling
events in a variety of orders. (c) Mentally
changing perspectives (e.g. own, victim's,
suspect's, another witness'). (d) Trying to
recall every detail they can remember, no matter
how apparently trivial. (Details may lead to
recall of addtional, more relevant, information). 
Enhanced Cognitive Interview "Cognitive"
techniques plus "communication" techniques (a)
Open-ended, non-leading questions - e.g. "tell me
everything you can remember about the
robber". (b) Social communication techniques,
e.g. rapport building, not interrupting
witnesses, timing questions.
Empirical evalautions of the Cognitive
Interview Typically increases correct recall by
25-50 compared to standard interview.
(a) Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon and Holland
(1985) Students watched 4-minute film of a
violent crime. Interviewed 48 hours later by
either (i) Standard police interview (ii)
Hypnosis (iii) Cognitive Interview. More
correct statements in CI and Hypnosis conditions
than in standard Police interview. No difference
between hypnosis and CI. Similar error rates in
all conditions - suggests hypnosis and CI did not
improve recall by increasing subjects' readiness
to say anything at all, correct or not. CI
quicker and easier than hypnosis.
(b) Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon and Holland
(1986) Staged classroom interruption. Students
interviewed using CI were more resistant to
leading questions about a backpack's colour than
were students given a standard interview.   (c)
Fisher, Geiselman and Amador (1989) CI-trained
detectives produced 63 more information in
interviews than did non-CI-trained detectives.
(d) Kohnken, Milne, Memon and Bull
(1994) Meta-analysis of 32 experiments (1200
subjects, 2500 interviews). CI increased amount
of information recalled by 36. Number of
incorrect details recalled increased by
17. Significantly increased recall of both
correct and incorrect items. However, the mean
accuracy rate (proportion of correct details
recalled relative to total number of recalled
details) was similar to the standard interview
(84 for the CI and 82 for the standard
(e) Mantwill, Kohnken and Aschermann (1995) Is
effectiveness of CI limited to highly episodic
information? Tested recall of experienced and
inexperienced blood-donors for events in a
videotape of blood-donation. CI enhanced recall
no effects of familiarity.  
Effectiveness of CI with children Limited
meta-memory skills, problems with source
monitoring. Koehnken, Milne, Memon and Bull
(1994) Meta-analysis of effectiveness of CI for
children. Increases amount of correct details and
false information recalled overall accuracy rate
remains constant. "Recall in reverse order" and
"change perspective" instructions confuse
Effectiveness of CI with the elderly Prone to
source memory errors, hence false memories.
Dornburg and McDaniel (2006) 65-87 year-olds
read story about a couple's relationship,
expecting to be questioned about their emotional
reactions to it. 3 weeks later unexpected
non-interactive CI or standard interview. 3
attempts at recall. CI improved recall, without
impairing accuracy or affecting confidence
ratings. In CI group, decreased frontal scores
were associated with increased incorrect recall.
Practical problems with CI Kebble, Milne and
Bull (1999) Survey of British police officers
suggested CI was too time-consuming. "Change
order" and "change perspectives" rated as least
useful components of CI. Clifford and George
(1996) British police reluctant to use the
"change order" and change perspective"
instructions relied on "context
reinstatement". Boon and Noon (1994) only the
"recall everything" instruction was widely
adopted by police. Kebbell et al. (1999)
police officers who used the CI preferred the
"recall everything" instruction.
Davis, McMahon and Greenwood (2005) Compared 3
types of interview ECI, MCI (shortened CI, with
above mnemonics replaced by additional
free-recall attempts), SI (structured interview
without cognitive mnemonics). No. correct items
recalled ECI MCI gt SI No. incorrect items
recalled ECI MCI SI Accuracy rate ECI MCI
SI "Report eveything" and "context
reinstatement" are the crucial CI components.
MCI elicited 87 of ECI information, but was 23
Effective components of CI Milne and Bull
(2002) Children aged 5-6, 8-9 and ug's viewed
video of an accident. Interviewed 48 hours later,
with either (1) context reinstatement, (2)
change perspective, (3) change order, (4)
report everything, (5) report everything/context
reinstatement combination (RE/CR), (6) control
instruction to try again. (1) - (4) were
equally effective but no better than (6). RE/CR
produced more correct recall than individual
mnemonics. No effects of age group on
effectiveness of the various instructions.
Marsh, Tversky and Hutson (2005) Effects of
post-event rumination on recall. After viewing a
violent film, subjects either talked about their
emotional responses to it gave a factual
account or did unrelated tasks. Talking about
emotions led to greater subjectivty and more
errors in free recall. Differences were
minimised by tests providing more retrieval cues.
False confessions as a major cause of
miscarriages of justice Borchard (1932) False
confessions elicited by police pressure or simply
under the influence of a stronger mind upon the
weaker were very damning. Brandon and Davies
(1972) Defendants often mentally-deficient,
juveniles or psychologically vulnerable or
disturbed, i.e. abnormally susceptible to
suggestion. Bedau and Radelet (1987) 49 of 350
cases (14 )involved false confessions, mainly
due to coercion.
Reasons for False Confessions (Gudjonsson
1992) 1. Morbid desire for notoriety. 2. To
relieve guilt for previous transgressions. 3.
Schizophrenia. 4. Coerced compliant - confess to
get out of custody, to stop the police
interrogating them, or to cope with the pressures
of the situation. Will retract their confession
as soon as they are out of the situation. 5.
Coerced internalised - come to believe during
police interrogation, that they actually did the
crime, even though they have no memory of it. May
come to believe their false confession, for some
Coerced internalised - Due to (a) amnesia at time
of crime (amnesia or alcohol-induced memory
problems), so no clear recollection of what they
were doing at the time of the crime. (b) memory
distrust - come to distrust initial clear
recollection of not having committed the crime.
Interrogation produces sufficient self-doubt and
confusion to cause them to adjust their
perceptions of reality.
Predisposing factors in coerced-internalised
confessions (Ofshe 1989) (a) interrogator
stated, with great confidence, his belief in the
suspects guilt. (b) suspect was isolated from
contradictory people or evidence. (c) lengthy
interrogation. (d) interrogator repeatedly
reminded suspect of his memory problems or mental
disorder. (e) interrogator induced fear about
consequences of repeated denials. (f) personality
factors - good trust of people in authority lack
of self-confidence heightened suggestibility.
Reality monitoring and false memories Deese-Roedi
ger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm listening to
thematically-linked word list results in false
recall of similar words not actually
presented. Effect higher for words (70-80 false
recognitions) than pictures (30) but depends on
how images are generated. Foley, Wozniak and
Gillum (2006) Source monitoring framework -
false memory effects consistent with
"impoverished encoding" and "distinctiveness
heuristic". Guided imagery may impair source
monitoring abilities.
Conclusions Cognitive interview increases
amount recalled, without compromising
accuracy. Critical components are "context
reinstatement" and "recall everything". Memory
is labile and open to many influences
essentially an inferential, reconstructive
process. Source monitoring is easily influenced,
especially under interrogation conditions,
leading to risk of coerced-internalised
He thinks he didn't do it, but we can persuade
him otherwise.