EAPL 2019

Presentations at EAPL 2019

In July 2019, HAC lab members Charlotte Hudson, Nkansah Anakwah, Feni Kontogianni, and Renan Saraiva presented their research at the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) Conference, in Santiago de Compsotela, Spain. Below you will find the abstracts of each of their talks and posters.

A lens model examination of consistency and deception 

Charlotte Hudson, Aldert Vrij, Lucy Akehurst, Lorraine Hope, & Liam Satchell


Introduction: The “consistency heuristic” is the frequently reported belief that consistency indicates truthfulness and inconsistency indicates deception. However, research has shown the consistency heuristic to be contrary to actual truth teller and liar behaviour. This suggests that truth tellers are more likely to be inconsistent due to the reconstructive nature of memory, and that liars are more likely to repeat information to appear consistent and therefore truthful. Nonetheless, it is commonly reported that both laypeople and criminal justice professionals believe that inconsistency is a good cue to deception, although to date there is little research examining whether people utilise the consistency heuristic when making veracity judgements, or merely self-report it as a perceived cue to deception. In fact, research suggests that the exact same series of consecutive statements can be considered consistent by one judge, and inconsistent by another. It therefore seems that whether a series of statements are perceived consistent or not (and potentially therefore truthful or not) is moderated by the individual differences of the judge.

Study purpose: To date, researchers have attempted to explain subjective cues to deception based upon self-report (see meta-analysis by Hartwig & Bond, 2011). This usually takes the form of open-ended questions asking about what evaluators believe are good cues to deception or what cues they base their veracity judgements on. However, there is a methodological limitation to this approach, as there is no way to establish with certainty that the cues people report using are actually the ones that best explain their decision-making process. It is possible that people are unaware of what drives their veracity judgements and, when asked about it, choose to report explicit social stereotypes about deceptive behaviour. This can be examined through lens modelling.

Methodology: Using a repeated measures design, participants first completed a questionnaire regarding their beliefs about to deception. They then read four statements of varying levels of consistency and detail, and rated these statements on eight features (perceived veracity, amount of detail, consistency, number of repetitions, number of omissions, number of reminiscences, number of contradictions, and confidence for their veracity judgement).

Expected results: A complete dataset is due in May 2019, and will be analysed using linear mixed models to account for random effects of sampling participants and statements. These models will demonstrate the variance explained by statement information (i.e. consistency, repetitions) in statement veracity and rater judgments of veracity. These tests will be presented in a lens model format which will highlight the preferences and biases of participants observing repeated interviews, in order to examine what cues are actually being utilised within the veracity decision-making process.

The acculturation effect and eyewitness testimony among sub-Sahara African migrants

Nkansah Anakwah, Robert Horselenberg, Lorraine Hope, & Peter van Koppen


When people migrate to new cultures, they adapt to those cultures while at the same time holding on to the norms of their original culture. That process of change as people adapt to their new cultural environment has been referred to as acculturation (Hsu, 2010). The culture in which people are socialised, can impact psychological processes (Hofstede, 2001; Shavitt, Lee, & Johnson, 2008). Legal and investigative professionals may find it challenging if they do not have insight into how the reporting norms in the native culture of such migrants may be shaped by that of their new culture, and how the new cultural setting may impact their eyewitness memory reports. Using a mock witness paradigm, we examined the acculturation effect in the eyewitness memory reports of sub-Sahara African migrants in Western Europe. We sampled sub-Sahara African migrants in Western Europe, as well as sub-Sahara Africans living in Africa as a control group (total N = 109). The design was a 2 (Group: Africans living in Western Europe, Africans living in Africa) X 2 (Crime setting: European setting, African setting) mixed factorial design. The between group variable was cultural group and the within group variable was crime setting. The stimuli used were eight crime event photographs rich in central and background details. The photos depicted four crime scenarios (theft, assault, accident and robbery). Each participant viewed four of the stimuli, which were counterbalanced. After watching each stimuli scene, participants completed a distraction task and provided free and cued recall of what they saw in the stimulus. Participants were tested individually and their responses audio recorded. Participants completed the Cultural Orientation Scale (Triandis & Gelfand, 1998). We found evidence of the acculturation effect in the eyewitness memory reports of sub-Sahara African migrants. Although, sub-Sahara Africans living in Africa report more contextual details for European crime settings than they do for African crime settings, sub-Sahara African migrant witnesses do not differ in free recall of contextual details for both cultural settings. That acculturation effect is consistent with our finding that the longer African migrants stay in Western Europe the less collectivistic they become in cultural orientation. Accordingly, we argue that due to the acculturation effect, the reporting norms and the cultural setting in their new culture can shape their eyewitness memory reports. Our findings provide useful insight for legal and investigative professionals who interview sub-Sahara African migrant witnesses.

Reliability and credibility assessment of witness reports: single versus repeated events

Symposium: Complex Criminal Investigations: Pitfalls and Opportunities in Police Investigative Practice

Feni Kontogianni, Lorraine Hope, Paul J. Taylor, Aldert Vrij, & Fiona Gabbert

In legal and asylum-seeking contexts, decisions are often made based on how practitioners and lay people, evaluate memory reports by witnesses, victims or informants. Witnesses in such many cases may refer to events that have occurred repeatedly over a period of time (e.g. domestic abuse cases; asylum claims due to recurring violence), little is known about how accounts pertaining to repeated events are perceived relative to an account of an isolated incident.

Study purpose: Given evidence that memory for repeated events differs from memory of single events, we examined how practitioners and lay people judge the reliability and credibility of single event reports versus reports of an instance of repeated events. We expected that single event reports would be perceived as more reliable and more credible than the reports of a repeated event (whether a change over the course of the typical routine of the events occurred or not).

Participants and Method: Lay people (N= 75) and practitioners (N= 43), were randomly allocated to one of three conditions (Memory report: Typical instance of a repeated event vs Changed instance of a repeated event vs Single event) in an online experiment. Participants read an interview transcript provided by an adult witness and were asked to rate the credibility and reliability of the report, without knowing whether the report referred to a recurring or isolated incident.

Results and Conclusions: Contrary to expectations and to previous research, lay people rated reports as equally credible and reliable, regardless of whether they described a single event or an instance of a repeated event. Data collection for the practitioners’ sample is currently ongoing. Results will be discussed in relation to the evaluation of memory reports in applied settings, and the type of cues that raters employ to judge the reliability and credibility of witness reports.

Using general and eyewitness-specific metamemory assessments to estimate performance in multiple identifications

Renan Benigno Saraiva, Inger Mathilde van Boeijen, Lorraine Hope, Robert Horselenberg, Peter J. van Koppen

Estimating eyewitness memory accuracy is crucial in forensic settings, given the need for efficient investigations and 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 might provide informative estimates of eyewitness identification accuracy and confidence. Participants first completed a specially designed Eyewitness Metamemory Scale (EMS) and the Multifactorial Memory Questionnaire (MMQ). Later, in a multiple eyewitness identification paradigm, participants (N = 203) attempted to identify eight perpetrators they had seen committing eight different crimes 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). The Eyewitness Memory Contentment component of the EMS was a significant predictor of correct identifications, false identifications, and lineup confidence. Additionally, the confidence-accuracy relationship was better calibrated among individuals with higher Eyewitness Memory Contentment. The General Memory Contentment component of the MMQ was predictive of fewer correct identifications and more false identifications.. The results suggest that metamemory self-assessments that are specific to eyewitness domain may be useful estimators of identification performance. Eyewitness-specific metamemory assessments may be used to improve the diagnostic value of confidence, providing one of many pieces of useful information that should be considered when evaluating eyewitness identifications.


Development and validation of the Eyewitness Metamemory Scale (EMS)

Renan Benigno Saraiva, Inger Mathilde van Boeijen, Lorraine Hope, Robert Horselenberg, Melanie Sauerland, Peter J. van Koppen


Metamemory can be defined as the knowledge about one’s memory capabilities and about strategies that can aid memory. Metamemory research is essential for a comprehensive understanding of how people use and perceive their own memory, providing a theoretical framework that can generate testable hypotheses. Current psychometric instruments on metamemory typically focus on broad memory domains (e.g., episodic memory or semantic memory), and there seems to be a lack of self-assessment instruments of memory capacity for faces and person recognition. In this study, we describe the development and validation of the Eyewitness Metamemory Scale (EMS), tailored specifically for use in face memory and eyewitness identification settings. Two qualitative approaches were adopted to develop an initial pool of items for the EMS. The items showed good factorability (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test = 0.89 and significant Bartlett’s test) and did not present multicollinearity or singularity issues (Determinant = 0.00001). Participants (N = 800) completed the EMS and other measures on general metamemory. Results from exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis revealed good factorial validity, internal consistency, and content validity. The 23 EMS items emerged into three distinct factors: memory contentment (coefficient omega = .88), memory discontentment (coefficient omega = .86), and memory strategies (coefficient omega = .82). Correlations with other general metamemory measures ranged from r = -.54 to r = .62. The EMS is a brief and easily administrable questionnaire that might be used to assess self-ratings of face recognition capacity and use of strategies to encode faces. 


The role of eyewitness metamemory on identification performance for fair and unfair lineups

Renan Benigno Saraiva, Inger Mathilde van Boeijen, Lorraine Hope, Robert Horselenberg, Melanie Sauerland, Peter J. van Koppen


Estimating eyewitness identification accuracy is a major issue in the criminal justice system. Accurate identifications are compelling evidence for prosecuting a perpetrator, but inaccurate identifications can have severe consequences including the conviction of innocent suspects. Psychological research has identified some postdictors of eyewitness accuracy that are useful when trying to determine if a culprit was correctly identified, including early statements of confidence, decision time during the identification, and self-reported decision process. However, under certain circumstances, such factors have varying predictive values, and distinguishing correct from incorrect identifications is an issue far from being resolved. When eyewitnesses are exposed to unfair lineups, for example, their confidence-accuracy relationship is usually weaker, being more susceptible to underconfidence or overconfidence. In this study, we proposed to test the use of metamemory assessments as estimators of eyewitness identification accuracy for biased and unbiased lineups.

Participants first responded to one measure of metamemory specific to the eyewitness domain (Eyewitness Metamemory Scale - EMS), and two measures of general metamemory (Multifactorial Memory Questionnaire – MMQ; and Squire Subjective Memory Questionnaire – SSMQ). Next, participants took part in a classic eyewitness identification paradigm and were assigned to either a fair or unfair lineup condition. Lineup bias was manipulated via the similarity between the fillers and the suspect in the lineup, so that the suspect would either stand out (unfair lineup) or not (fair lineup). Results from multilevel logistic regressions revealed that participants in the biased lineup made more correct identifications, but also produced more false alarms. Participants with higher Eyewitness Metamemory Discontentment (EMS) made fewer correct identifications and more false identifications. General memory contentment (MMQ) was associated with more correct identifications, and memory development over time (SSMQ) was associated with fewer correct identifications. Interaction coefficients revealed that the relation between metamemory measures and eyewitness identification performance was more pronounced in unfair lineups compared to fair lineups. The findings suggest that individuals are more likely to correctly identify the perpetrator in unfair lineups, but are also more likely to identify an innocent suspect. Furthermore, intrinsic cues of memory ability are useful estimators of eyewitness identification accuracy, especially for unfair lineups. We discuss the results in relation to the applied value of general and eyewitness-specific metamemory assessments for distinguishing accurate from inaccurate identifications.