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The effect of co -witness information on witnesses' memory reports in investigative interviews

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Keywords
  • Psychology
  • Social|Psychology
  • Experimental|Psychology
  • Cognitive

Abstract

The present research examined the influence of co-witness information, provided by the interviewer, on the memory reports of witnesses to a live, staged robbery. Memory reports were obtained from participants in an interview immediately after the staged robbery and in a questionnaire one week later. During the interview, participants were told what other witnesses to the robbery bad supposedly said (i.e., co-witness information). The results indicated that the co-witness information exerted an influence on participants' memory reports immediately after the robbery and one week later. However, if participants were instructed to ignore the co-witness information at the one-week re-test, they were largely effective in doing so. These results suggest that police interviewers can inadvertently contaminate the crime reports of eyewitnesses by telling them what other witnesses have already said. ^

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