EAPL 2018

In June, 2018, Gary Dalton, Renan Saraiva, Nkansah Anakwah, Charlotte Hudson, Shiri Portnoy, Aleks Izotovas, Pamela Hanway, and Sergii Yaremenko will present their research at the Annual Conference of the European Association of Psychology and Law 2018 (EAPL) in Turku, Finland.

You can read their abstracts below.

Person description information: Examining body worn video footage to evaluate police officer’s frontline communication

G. Dalton, R. Milne, L. Hope, & G. Pike


Police forces now use body worn video cameras (BWV), which facilitates a unique insight into how frontline police officers communicate with witnesses and victims. For the first time we can evaluate the types of questions police officers ask and the responses that these questions generate. Person descriptions form an important source of information for police investigations, though unfortunately, these descriptions tend to be non-distinct. The present study aimed to examine how person descriptions are elicited by frontline police officers, whilst also exploring the level of ‘grain size’ of information obtained from witnesses.


Privileged access to BWV footage of incidents taken over a 15-month period were viewed. 89 incidents included a person description (100 witnesses and 31 frontline police officers). Koriat and Goldsmith’s (1996) Metacognitive Model of Memory Regulation was used to examine the level of detail witnesses provided to frontline officers. The questions asked by officers were also evaluated to see which yielded the most information.

Results and discussion

Person descriptions were being elicited using inappropriate questions (38% of the time) and this has the potential to produce vague or incorrect descriptions. However, when appropriate questions were used, witnesses provided a significantly higher number of descriptors. The study shows the need for frontline police officers to be trained using a structured approach on how to gather detailed information without contaminating memory.

Estimating eyewitness accuracy: What can metamemory measures and memory tests tell us about eyewitness identification performance?

R. Saraiva, L. Hope, J. Ost, P. Van Koppen, R. Horselenberg & J. Sauer

Estimating eyewitness memory accuracy is crucial in forensic settings, given (i) the need for efficient investigations and (ii) the negative consequences of misidentifications. Confidence can be a reliable indicator of performance, but eyewitnesses can also be prone to over/under-confidence. In the current research, we examined whether different metamemory measures and memory tests might provide informative estimates of eyewitness identification accuracy and confidence. Participants first completed the Multifactorial Memory Questionnaire (MMQ), the Squire Subjective Memory Questionnaire, and questions on cognitive skills. Later, in a standard eyewitness identification paradigm, participants (N = 251) attempted to identify a perpetrator they had seen committing a crime from either a target-present or target-absent line-up. Confidence ratings for identification decisions were obtained using a scale that ranged from 0% (not at all certain) to 100% (totally certain). Next, participants took part in one of three unrelated memory tests (cued-recall; face recognition; or general knowledge). The Memory Contentment component of MMQ was the only useful predictor of memory accuracy, while Memory Contentment, Memory Ability (MMQ) and self-rated face recognition skill were predictors of eyewitness confidence. The confidence-accuracy relationship was better calibrated among individuals with higher metamemory scores. There was no association between performance in the follow-up memory tests and accuracy. The results suggest that metamemory self-assessment is of little value as an estimator of eyewitness identification accuracy. However, metamemory assessments may be used to improve the diagnosticity of confidence, providing one of many pieces of useful information that should be considered when evaluating eyewitness identifications.

Cultural influences on eyewitness testimony

N. Anakwah, R. Horselenberg, L. Hope, P. van Koppen

In many criminal cases eyewitness testimony is sometimes given by witnesses from cultures other than a Western culture. Because eyewitnesses have been socialised in their respective cultures, legal professionals interacting with them may find it challenging if they do not have an insight into cultural determined reporting preferences of these witnesses. In this study, we seek to examine whether there is any difference between the eyewitness memory reports provided by sub-Sahara Africans and those provided by Western Europeans. These two cultures have been respectively identified to be collectivistic and individualistic in orientation (Hofstede, 2001). Thus, while sub-Sahara Africans tend to view the self as part of the social context, Western Europeans tend to view the self as unique (Markus & Kitayama, 2003). The design for the study is a 3 (Participant culture: The Netherlands, urban Ghana, rural Ghana) X 2 (Stimuli context: Dutch context, Ghanaian context) factorial design. A total of 80 participants each are being sampled from the Netherlands, rural Ghana and urban Ghana. Four still images of a staged crime, both in a Western and in an Africa context, are being used as experimental stimuli to access how participants will report about the events presented. Based on work by Markus and Kitayama's (2003), we predict that eyewitness reports across-cultures will differ. Specifically, we expect participants from sub-Sahara Africa to report more information about the social context of the witnessed crime than participants from Western Europe. Conversely, we predict participants from Western Europe will report more about central foreground details than participants from sub-Sahara Africa.

Does the way of immediate interviewing affects deception detection in delayed accounts?

A. Izotovas, A. Vrij, L. Hope, S. Mann, P.A. Granhag, & L. Strömwall

In real life criminal investigation settings, proper usage of interviewing techniques are important to gather information, also to effectively infer credibility of interviewee’s account. We experimentally investigated how different interviewing techniques employed in an interview conducted immediately after an event affected truth tellers’ and liars’ responses when they were interviewed again after a two-week delay. We also compared how consistent both groups were. Participants (n = 80) were shown a mock intelligence operation video and instructed either to tell the truth or lie about its contents in two interviews, one of which was immediately after watching the video and the other after a two-weeks delay. In the immediate interview they were requested to report everything they remembered, or asked open-ended questions related to the event. In the delayed interview all participants were asked to report everything. Truth tellers reported more visual, spatial, temporal and action details than liars both immediately and after a delay in both interviewing groups. However, the differences between truth tellers and liars were larger in report everything than open-ended questions condition. Truth tellers provided more reminiscences, repetitions, and less omissions than liars in the delayed accounts. Results suggest that immediate report everything instruction can buffer against truth-tellers’ decline in reporting details after a delay, also effectively discriminate between truthful and deceptive accounts.

Attention to Detail: Deception and Consistency in Investigative Interviews

Charlotte Hudson, Aldert Vrij, Lucy Akehurst, Lorraine Hope

Research indicates that genuine statements contain more detail than fabricated statements, and that liars are no less consistent than truth tellers over multiple interviews. In this experiment, we examined the impact of (i) multiple interviewers and (ii) reverse order recall on liars’ and truth tellers’ consistency and reported detail over repeated interviews. Participants either participated in a mock crime (lying condition) or an innocent event (truth telling condition), which they were subsequently interviewed about. Truth tellers provided more details than liars in the second phase of their interviews, as well as over both phases of the interview combined. However, fewer details were reported by both truth tellers and liars in the second phase of the interview when compared to the first phase, and there were no differences in the number of details provided by truth tellers or liars in the initial phase of the interviews. Furthermore, truth tellers included more reminiscent details than liars, but there were no significant differences between truth tellers and liars for the number of repetitions or omissions. We found little evidence that switching interviewer or recalling in reverse order induced inconsistencies in liars. In fact, due to the number of reminiscences in truth teller’s statements, our findings suggest liars are slightly more consistent than truth tellers, because reminiscences lead to inconsistency.

Experiences and perceived effects of cognitive load on interviewers’ performance during investigative interviews

P. Hanway, L. Akehurst, Z. Vernham, L. Hope

We aimed to gain a greater understanding of interviewers’ experiences of perceived cognitive load when they conduct investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses. The objective was to obtain, via fieldwork, information regarding factors that interviewers find cognitively demanding, as well as gaining an insight into their perceptions of the impact of cognitive load on their performance. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten British police officers who had been trained to interview vulnerable witnesses. The transcribed content of the interviews was explored via Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Interviewers perceived that complex interviews were cognitively demanding due to factors including the nature of the case and the needs of the witness. Time pressure was also identified as a factor that contributed to their perceived cognitive load. Interviewers felt that, as a result of cognitive load, they may ask inappropriate questions and their interviews may lack structure. The findings suggest that cognitive load, due to factors such as time pressure and interview complexity, has a significant impact on interviewers’ perceived performance in terms of compliance with best practice guidance.

Interviewer's presumed guilt does not affect innocent suspects' verbal output during short interactions

S. Portnoy, L. Hope, A. Vrij, P-A. Granhag, K. Ask, C. Eddy, & S. Landström

Objective: Innocent suspects often fail to convince interviewers of their innocence, and consequently, may be mistakenly perceived as guilty. However, interviewers may already confidently hold beliefs about the suspect’s guilt prior to the interview. Occasionally, these beliefs are erroneous. Research has demonstrated the effects of interviewers’ presumed guilt on their behaviour during interviews and, consequently, on the behaviour of the suspects. However, research on the effect of presumed guilt on the accuracy and completeness of alibis of innocent suspects is limited. Thus, we tested the effects of interviewer’s presumed guilt on innocent suspects’ verbal output during alibi provision.

Method: Participants (N = 90) completed four non-criminal tasks and then provided an alibi to convince an interviewer that they were innocent of an alleged theft. Critically, at the outset of the interview, the interviewer communicated to the participants that she believed that they were guilty (n=30) or innocent (n=30) of the theft, or that she had no specific belief regarding their responsibility for the theft (n=30).

Results: Although participants’ perceptions of the interviewers’ belief regarding their responsibility for the theft were in accordance with the manipulation (as reported by participants after alibi provision), the amount of correct details (quantity) and accuracy rates of the details provided did not differ between conditions.

Conclusions: In the current study, the completeness and accuracy of alibis of innocent suspects did not seem to be affected by a single, short interaction during which the interviewer conveyed a belief about their guilt or innocence of a crime. Participants most commonly reported strategy used by them to provide a convincing alibi was to provide as many details as possible.

Chronotype and Time-Of Day Effects on Eyewitness Memory

S. Yaremenko, M. Sauerland, L. Hope, H.Merckelbach

Individuals differ in the time of day at which they reach their peak performance, which has led to a classification into morning, intermediate and evening types. The morning types are known to show higher cognitive performance in the morning than in the afternoon or evening; the opposite is true for the evening types. The current study investigated whether time of day (optimal vs. non-optimal) affects accuracy and informativeness of eyewitness reports and identifications.

One hundred and three morning and evening type participants attended two sessions that were scheduled in the morning (8 AM to 10 AM) and in the evening (7 PM to 9 PM) of two different days. Thus, each participant was tested both at their optimal and non-optimal time of day. During each of the sessions, participants encoded one of the two stimulus films and subsequently their memory for that film was tested using free recall, cued recall and identification tasks. It was hypothesized that participants provide more complete and accurate person and event descriptions in free reports and answers to cued questions about the stimulus film and show higher identification accuracy if tested at their optimal in comparison to non-optimal time of day.

Results did not support the hypothesis that time-of-day optimality would be a significant predictor of completeness and accuracy of free reports and answers to cued questions. Additionally, contrary to our predictions, identification accuracy was higher at non-optimal compared to optimal time of day, the effect being specific to target-present lineups. Futher explorative analyses revealed that the drop-down in identification accuracy at optimal time of day occurred mainly due to increased false rejections and decreased target identifications, while foil selection rates were not affected by testing optimality. Further research is necessary to explore the variations in decision-making processes of eyewitnesses across the day.

Copyright 2014 Hope