The Cognitive Interview
By Dr. Saul McLeod, updated 2021
Findings concerning the undependability of eye-witness accounts have led researchers to attempt to devise methods for improving retrieval. One of these methods is the cognitive interview ( Fisher & Geiselman, 1992 ). The cognitive interview ( CI ) is a questioning proficiency used by the police to enhance retrieval of information about a crime scene from the eyewitnesses and victim ‘s memory. Geiselman et aluminum. ( 1985 ) developed the Cognitive Interview ( CI ) as an alternate to the Standard Interview. It takes into report psychological findings about cue-dependent forget and has four stages designed to stimulate as many cues as possible in order to maximise different recovery routes. :
- Stage 1: Reinstate the context
- Stage 2: Recall events in reverse order
- Stage 3: Report everything they can remember
- Stage 4: Describe events from someone else’s point of view
Because our memories are made up of a network of associations rather than discrete and confused events, there are a count of ways that these memories can be accessed. The cognitive interview exploits this by using multiple retrieval strategies .
The cognitive interview involves a number of techniques/mnemonics :
Mental Reinstatement of Environmental and Personal Contexts
The interviewer tries to mentally reinstate the environmental and personal context of the crime for the witnesses, possibly by asking them about their cosmopolitan activities and feelings on the day. This could include sights, sounds, feelings and emotions, the weather etc. In the interview, witnesses are often asked to use all of their 5 senses in their remembrance of the consequence. This can help in recreating the event clearly in their mind and may trigger the remember of context dependent memories.
Reporting the Event from Different Perspectives
Witnesses are asked to report the incident from different perspective, describing what they think other witnesses ( or even the criminals themselves ) might have seen.
Describing the Event in Several Orders
Recounting the incident in a different narrative club. Geiselman and Fisher proposed that due to the recency consequence, people tend to recall more recent events more clearly than others. Witnesses should be encouraged to work backwards from the end to the begin. When events are recalled in forward arrange, witnesses remodel based on their schema, this might lead to distortion. If the arrange is changed they are more accurate as they are less probable to use their outline.
Witnesses are asked to report every detail, even if they think that detail is fiddling. In this direction, obviously insignificant detail might act as a trigger for identify data about the consequence. It is believed that the change of narrative holy order and change of perceptive techniques aid hark back because they reduce witness ’ use of anterior cognition, expectations or outline. A psychology testing ground experiment conducted by Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon, and Holland ( 1985 ) compared the cognitive interview with a standard patrol interview and hypnosis .
Geiselman et al. (1985)
Aim : Geiselman ( 1985 ) set out to investigate the effectiveness of the cognitive interview.
Method : Participants viewed a film of a violent crime and, after 48 hours, were interviewed by a policeman using one of three methods : the cognitive consultation ; a standard consultation used by the Los Angeles Police ; or an interview using hypnosis. The number of facts accurately recalled and the number of errors made were recorded.
Results : The modal issue of correctly recalled facts for the cognitive interview was 41.2, for hypnosis it was 38.0 and for the standard interview it was 29.4. There was no meaning dispute in the number of errors in each condition.
Conclusion : The cognitive interview leads to better memory for events, with witnesses able to recall more relevant information compared with a traditional consultation method.
Cognitive Interview Video
Karen Matthews ( Shannon ’ s mum ) was arrested for abducting her own daughter. Although we know that Karen wasn ’ t the spectator watch this clip to see the techniques used to elicit information from Karen.
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One limitation is the cognitive interview is that it ‘s time consuming to conduct and takes much longer than a standard patrol interview. A rapport must be established and it requires specialist discipline. Kebbell and Wagstaff ( 1999 ) found many police officers did not use the CI technique in less dangerous crimes as they did not have the fourth dimension. The CI may produce a huge sum of information but it may not always be hardheaded or helpful in terms of allocating the police to efficiently investigate incidents.
It is besides time consuming to train patrol officers to use this method. This means that it is unlikely that the ‘proper ‘ adaptation of the cognitive consultation is used. Another limit is that some elements of the cognitive interview may be more valuable than others. For exercise, research has shown that using a combination of ‘report everything ‘ and ‘context reinstatement ‘ produced better recall than any of the conditions individually. Geiselman ( 1985 ) set out to investigate the effectiveness of the cognitive interview. Participants viewed a film of a crimson crime and, after 48 hours, were interviewed by a policeman using one of three methods : the cognitive interview ; a standard interview used by the Los Angeles Police ; or an interview using hypnosis. The number of facts accurately recalled and the number of errors made were recorded. The average phone number of correctly recalled facts for the cognitive interview was 41.2, for hypnosis it was 38.0 and for the standard interview it was 29.4. In a real-life trial, Fisher et aluminum. ( 1990 ) trained detectives from the Miami Police Department to use the cognitive interview. Police interviews with eyewitnesses and victims were videotaped and the sum count of statements was scored. A second gear eyewitness was then asked to confirm whether these were true or assumed. Compared to the standard routine used, the cognitive interview produced 46 % increase in recall and 90 % accuracy. The findings suggested that the cognitive interview is more effective than the standard consultation, producing higher recall and reducing errors.
The cognitive interview is useful when interviewing older witnesses. Wright and Holliday ( 2007 ) found that the older the player, the less dispatch and accurate the recall but when they used the CI proficiency, the older participants recalled significantly greater detail without giving any false information. therefore, the CI can be used to ensure that all eyewitness testimony is arsenic accurate as possible to avoid a possible age bias on recall .
APA Style References
Fisher, R. P., Chin, D. M., & McCauley, M. R. ( 1990 ). Enhancing eyewitness remembrance with the cognitive interview. National Police Research Unit Review, 6 ( 3 ), 11. Fisher, R. P., & Geiselman, R. E. ( 1992 ). memory enhancing techniques for fact-finding interview : The cognitive interview. Springfield, IL : Charles C. Thomas. Geiselman, R. E., Fisher, R. P., MacKinnon, D. P., & Holland, H. L. ( 1985 ). eyewitness memory enhancement in the police interview : cognitive recovery mnemonics versus hypnos is. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70 [ 2 ], 401-412. Kebbell, M. R., Milne, R., & Wagstaff, G. F. ( 1999 ). The cognitive interview : A survey of its forensic effectiveness. Psychology, crime and police, 5 ( 1-2 ), 101-115. Wright, A. M., & Holliday, R. E. ( 2007 ). Interviewing cognitively impaired older adults : How useful is a cognitive Interview ?. memory, 15 ( 1 ), 17-33 .
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