The Cognitive Interview and Eyewitness Credibility

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The Cognitive Interview and Eyewitness Credibility My Initial Hypothesis Hypothesis: The cognitive interview increases the credibility of eyewitness testimony by decreasing memory error and confabulations. Information is the lifeblood of a criminal investigation. The ability of investigators to obtain useful and accurate information from eyewitnesses of crimes is crucial to effective law enforcement, yet full and accurate recall is difficult to achieve (Stewart, 1985). Such elicitation of complete and accurate recall from people is important in many aspects of life; specifically, eyewitness recall may determine whether a case is solved. Principle advocates of the cognitive interview (Fisher, Geiselman, Holland & MacKinnon,…show more content…
However, the effectiveness of context reinstatement in cognitive interviewing must consider the extent to which mental reinstatement of context may be effective (Bull & Memon, 1991). A study conducted by Bekerian, Dennett, Hill and Hitchcock (1990) classified imaged details into two types: molar details which include the placement of people, environmental factors and physical appearances; and molecular details which include the specificity of the information being imagined. The results indicated a significant increase in recall following imagery instructions, also reporting a proportional increase in errors. In summation, the picture that one obtains from an overview of the context is not reliable, and the combination of different context reinstatement procedures do not aid in the context of the recognition of suspects from photographs (Bekerian et al., 1990). This method, too, does not necessarily improve the credibility of eyewitness accounts, nor does it even decrease memory error and confabulations. My Current Opinion While the cognitive interview does prove to be effective in increasing the amount of accurate information elicited from witnesses of crimes, it does not necessarily increase the credibility of eyewitness testimony by reducing memory error and confabulations. The cognitive interview has been shown to elicit more information than the standard interview, but the two types do not differ on incorrect information or confabulations
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