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Effectiveness of Eye-Closure in Repeated Interviews

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminology Psychology Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2014 Pages: 282-295
Annelies Vredeveldt; Alan D. Baddeley; Graham J. Hitch
Date Published
September 2014
14 pages
Closing the eyes during recall can help witnesses remember more about a witnessed event. This study examined the effectiveness of eye-closure in a repeated recall paradigm with immediate free recall followed 1 week later by both free and cued recall.
The study examined whether eye-closure was more or less effective during the second free-recall attempt compared with the first, whether eye-closure during the first recall attempt had an impact on subsequent free- and cued-recall performance, and whether eye-closure during the second free recall could facilitate the recall of new, previously unreported, information (reminiscence). Participants witnessed a videotaped event and participated in a first free-recall attempt (with eyes open or closed) a few minutes later. After a week, they provided another free recall, followed by a cued-recall interview (with eyes open or closed). Eye-closure during the first free-recall attempt had no significant effect on performance during any of the recall attempts. However, eye-closure during the second session increased the amount of correct visual information reported in that session by 36.7 percent in free recall and by 35.3 percent in cued recall, without harming testimonial accuracy. Crucially, eye-closure also facilitated the recall of new, previously unreported visual information. The findings extend previous research in showing that the eye-closure instruction can still be effective when witnesses are interviewed repeatedly, and that it can facilitate the elicitation of new information. Thus, the eye-closure instruction constitutes a simple and time-efficient interview tool for police interviewers. (Published Abstract)