A field evaluation of the Eye-Closure Interview with witnesses of serious crimes.

Type Journal Article - Law and human behavior
Title A field evaluation of the Eye-Closure Interview with witnesses of serious crimes.
Volume 39
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 189-197
URL http://annelies.vredeveldt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Vredeveldt-et-al.-2014-A-field-evaluation-​of-the-Eye-Closure-Interview-with-witnesses-of-serious-crimes-authors-version.pdf
Laboratory research shows that eye-closure during memory retrieval improves both the
amount and the factual accuracy of memory reports about witnessed events. Based on these
findings, we developed the Eye-Closure Interview, and examined its feasibility (in terms of
compliance with the instructions) and effectiveness (in terms of the quantity and quality of
reported information) in eyewitness interviews conducted by the South African Police
Service. Police interviewers from the Facial Identification Unit were randomly assigned to
receive Eye-Closure Interview training or no training. We analyzed 95 interviews with
witnesses of serious crimes (including robbery, rape, and murder), some of whom were
instructed to close their eyes during salient parts of the interview. Witnesses in the control
condition rarely spontaneously closed their eyes, but witnesses in the Eye-Closure Interview
condition kept their eyes closed during 97% of their descriptions, suggesting that the EyeClosure
Interview would be easy to implement in a field setting. Although witnesses who
closed their eyes did not remember more information overall, the information they provided
was considered to be of significantly greater forensic relevance (as reflected in two
independent blind assessments, one by a senior police expert and one by a senior researcher).
Thus, based on the findings from this field study and from previous laboratory research, we
conclude that implementation of the Eye-Closure Interview in witness interviews would help
police interviewers to elicit more valuable information from witnesses, which could be
relevant to the police investigation and/or in court.

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