The Interviewer – Are Those Being Interviewed Telling The Truth Or Are They Lying? Part X

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

“Information is the lifeblood of investigation and it is the ability of investigators to obtain useful and accurate information from witnesses that is crucial to effective accident investigation”

R. Edward Geiselman and Ronald P. Fisher created the cognitive interview model in 1984.  In 1987, they made changes to the model and with these changes came revisions, which would change how they conducted their interviews.  The cognitive interview model was created to assist police officers with retrieving witness memories.  There were four areas that were used in obtaining information:
  1. Reinstating the context – the interviewer has the witness mentally recreated the scene (psychologically, physically)?
  2. Report everything—telling the witness to reveal every little detail, including information the witness may feel is irrelevant.
  3. Recall in different order—running through the narrative from different points.  For instance, starting at the end and going in reverse order back to the beginning.
  4. fcasv.org
  5. Change Perspective—have the witness place themselves in someone else’s position and describe what they would have seen.
“Language is a loaded weapon”
The new and improved enhanced cognitive model changed the methods and techniques on how the law enforcement official was conducted.  According to APA PsycNet, Dec. 1987 they:

Compared a revised version of the Cognitive Interview (CI) with the original version, which was designed to question eyewitnesses recall.

The revised cognitive interview model i.e. enhanced cognitive interview model included:

1.    Memory-enhanced interviewing principles to mentally reinstate in the eyewitness the physical and psychological environment of the original events;

2.    Variations in questions so that they conform to the eyewitness' knowledge, and;

3.    Revised guidelines about the sequential structure of the interview.

Evaluative data from 16 undergraduates show that the revised cognitive interview model elicited 45% more correct information than did the original cognitive interview model, which has been found to be 30% more effective than a standard police interview.  Although the revised cognitive interview model places more cognitive demands on the interviewer, it is more reliable, easier to learn, and easier to implement.  The revised cognitive interview model has been suggested as a viable alternative to hypnosis for forensic interviewing (APA PsycNet, 1987).

The enhanced cognitive interview model technique creates elements of conversation and social skills that assist the interviewer avoid distractions and it helps the witness to concentrate.  This makes the interview process less complicated for the law enforcement official.  Moreover, the witness who is being interviewed knows how to converse and this will make the interview easier for them to provide the information in an environment where they will feel comfortable.

To understand memory and how the enhanced cognitive interview processes information, there are three main phases.  First, registration – how information enters memory; second, storage – how information is stored; and three, - retrieval – how information is retrieved.

Research has demonstrated that there are several factor aids, which assist in remembering of a particular incident.  If you recall a memory as you drive by the incident, your memory may remember detailed information.  Sometimes you may recall the incident in such a way that the memory may become distorted because of the stress and anxiety associated with the memory.

I recall years ago when I was traveling by this residence, that as a young boy a friend of mine lived at this house.  The residence was on a road I hadn’t traveled on for years.  The memory seemed to be like yesterday.  I remembered my friend and me swimming in his back yard and climbing the trees in the woods behind his house.  There have been other places I have been reacquainted with that I know I had been there, but my memory was light and distorted.  I guess you won’t remember everything.  I wonder if a professional was to interview me about these places if my memory would have been stronger.

When the enhanced cognitive interview was developed, Geiselman and Fisher used imagery, repetition, and delay in the laboratory to understand the effects of the eyewitness accuracy.  In two experiments, they examined the usefulness of the enhanced cognitive interview as both a research tool and interview protocol for use with victims and witnesses to crimes.  The enhanced cognitive interview was developed based on a variety of cognitive theories and conversational techniques that facilitated the memory performance.

The first experiment demonstrated that utilizing a “focused imagery component” when using imagery, the enhanced cognitive interview and effects of delay and repetition of interviewing on eyewitness accuracy proved that the eyewitness recall accuracy improved greatly.  The improvement was seen in the person’s details and the advantage increased when the initial interview was delayed for a week compared to immediately after the witnessed event.

The second experiment demonstrated that when dealing with eyewitness identification accuracy, little research has been done in this area.  Further, the research suggests that when eyewitnesses generate a sufficient amount of suspect detail, they are less likely to identify a suspect in a subsequent lineup.

If you have reviewed this past week’s review of the cognitive interview model and enhanced cognitive interview model, you would agree that these two models are superior to any current interview model available to law enforcement.  If law enforcement receives the proper training and education on the two models, it has been proven that there can be an addition of information, up to 45%.

Law enforcement must push their officials be trained and retrained and stay current with the research reference these two models.  Once the training commences the difference in the way investigations are conducted will demonstrate a competent and intelligent approach.

Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations Part 1 
   By: Lawrence W. Daly                                                             
  Webinar Time- September 22, 2011 1:00 pm -2:00pm
   Registration Fee - $99.00

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