In General Terms How Can You Improve The Interviewing Of Eyewitnesses?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's January 2002

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Downloaded 29 times

The interviewing of eyewitness is a very sensitive process that needs to be carried out with care and logic if it is to succeed in its aims. However, it has been shown that the memory is fallible and can fail when it comes to recalling stored information in that it recalls false information about events that didn't really happen. This therefore poses a problem when eyewitnesses are interviewed as they can often recall information that is false and therefore delay the investigation. Bartlett said that memories are reconstructions in accordance with a schema and that they are not videos. Loftus also made similar findings to this; he said that the memory is influenced by the questions asked as memories are reconstructions.

This therefore shows that in order to improve the random nature of interviews the above psychological principles need to be applied. In light of this, Tulving and Thompson (1973) investigated the encoding specificity principle. They found that due to memories being encoded, stored and the retrieved it is easier to retrieve a memory when you are in the same emotional or physical state as when you encoded it. Therefore, in a cognitive interview asking the interviewee to re "“create mentally the physical and emotional context of the incident may jog their memory and so they will be able to give a more accurate description of what happened. Police may also take them back to the scene of the crime and try and reconstruct the incident in a "Crimewatch" style to see if this sets off any memory triggers.

Loftus and Collins (1975) also came up with a model that maybe applied to interviewing techniques. The spreading activation model shows that concepts in the long term memory are linked semantically i.e. through semantic nets. Therefore to improve the interviewing...