Presentations at SARMAC 2019

In June 2019, HAC lab members Pamela Hanway, Stefana Juncu, Carey Marr, Nkansah Anakwah, and Sergii Yaremenko presented their research at the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC) XIII Conference, in Cape Cod, MA, USA. Below you will find the abstracts of each of their talks and posters.

The effects of increased cognitive demands on interviewers’ perceived cognitive load and recall of a witness’s verbal statement

Pamela Hanway, Lucy Akehurst, Zarah Vernham, & Lorraine Hope

Investigative interviews can be demanding; interviewers are required to listen actively, remember what their interviewees are saying, formulate questions and observe protocol. This research showed that, in a ‘high cognitive load’ condition when instructions were given to increase their cognitive demand, interviewers perceived increased cognitive load. Further their performance on a recall task was impaired relative to those in ‘no cognitive load’ and ‘moderate cognitive load’ conditions. Limited processing capacity may lead to a cognitive load for interviewers that reduces performance, and limits adherence to good practice behaviors, such as asking open-ended questions based on the witness’s free narrative account.

Contextual effects on prospective person memory 

Stefana Juncu, Ryan Fitzgerald, Hartmut Blank, James Ost 

Stage 1 Registered Report, IPA Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 


To find a missing person, the public must be on the lookout and alert the authorities if they encounter the person during their everyday activities. In this registered report, we will explore whether performance on these prospective person memory tasks is improved by providing contextual information about the person at encoding. Participants will study the target face by itself or alongside descriptive information which will match or not the situation in which the targets appear at test. By analysing discriminability and response bias measures we will assess whether contextual information improves face recognition or if it direction attention during test.


Does lineup size matter? A Meta-analysis 

Stefana Juncu, Ryan Fitzgerald 


Nominal lineup size has been theorised to influence eyewitness identification rates. However, in most previous studies, no differences in accuracy have been found when increasing lineup size. We report a meta-analysis comparing identification rates from lineups that differ in lineup size. The analyses include both published and unpublished studies. Participants were less likely to identify both innocent and guilty suspects from larger lineups compared with smaller lineups. The reduction in suspect identification in larger lineups corresponded with an increase in filler identifications. Overall choosing rates were unaffected by lineup size. 


Examining the Effect of Acute Stress on Face Recognition Memory

​Carey Marr, Melanie Sauerland, Henry Otgaar, Conny Quaedflieg, & Lorraine Hope


Previous work on the effects of stress on memory has been methodologically limited or focused on non-eyewitness contexts. This research sought to reconcile past discrepant findings using a face recognition task. During two sessions, we examined the effect of acute stress at encoding (present vs. absent) and retrieval (present vs. absent) on face recognition during or 15 min post-stressor. In each session, 120 participants encountered either a standardized stressor (Maastricht Acute Stress Test) or control task. Simultaneously, they were presented with (Session 1) or tested on (Session 2) unfamiliar faces. Stress responses were verified with psychological and physiological measurements. Contrary to hypotheses, no statistically significant differences emerged between the four conditions. Implications and steps towards replication will be discussed.​

Where I come from and what I report: Cultural influences on eyewitness memory reports

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

Witnesses from cultures other than a Western culture sometimes give eyewitness testimony. We investigated culturally determined reporting preferences of eyewitness reports provided by sub-Sahara Africans and Western Europeans. Although participants from urban sub-Sahara Africa were forthcoming with both central and background details than those from rural sub-Sahara Africa, those from Western Europe reported more details. Central details were prioritised in the reports irrespective of culture. For participants in rural sub-Sahara Africa and Western Europe, individualism scores were negatively related with amount of central details. Interviews can prove efficient if investigative professionals are sensitive to the cultural dynamics of eyewitnesses.

Circadian Variations in Eyewitness Identification Performance

Sergii Yaremenko, Melanie Sauerland, and Lorraine Hope

 Individuals differ in the timing of circadian peaks and troughs, as determined by their chronotype. Morning types show peak in their performance during the morning hours, whereas evening types are at their best in the evening. We investigated whether matching this individual time-of-day preference can affect eyewitness identification performance. A total of 324 participants and made three identification decisions either at their optimal or non-optimal time of day. Results showed that identification accuracy depended on chronotype alone, irrespective of whether the time of testing was optimal or non-optimal: Evening-type participants were more accurate compared to morning-type participants across all three lineups.