I am a PhD student working with Professor Fiona Gabbert and Dr Gordon Wright.
My research interests are related to investigative interviewing and eyewitness memory. My PhD work is focused on the impact of different questioning styles on the quality of information provided both in an initial and subsequent interviews. I am also interested in how witnesses’ confidence in their memory changes depending on the quality of the initial interview, and what are the implications of these changes in terms of witnesses’ engagement with the Criminal Justice System.
In real life a witness is likely to be interviewed more than once and investigators can elicit good quality information through updated techniques and in-depth interviews later in the investigation process. Nevertheless the very first contact the Police establish with a witness is through the First Account Interview.
During a First Account interview the interviewer should gather a brief, albeit detailed, summary of what happened for the Police to be able to plan an immediate and effective response. Also, the interviewee should have the opportunity to recall what was seen to the best of his/her own abilities and reinforce that memory for future interviews. Ideally the First Account Interview shouldn’t affect witnesses’ confidence in collaborating with the police through the whole investigative process.
My research aims to improve our understanding on the initial interview and some of its implications.
For the past twenty years research in eyewitness memory has shown all the positive effects of good quality interviewing techniques. In particular researchers tend to agree that an initial interview can strengthen a memory for an event witnessed. Nevertheless, some inconsistent findings have highlighted that a first recall can have some negative effects, for example regarding the undertaking of misleading post event information.
It is important to fully understand when an initial interview can have negative effects and when it has positive effects and why. To answer this question and explore the processes that underpin such results, in a recent work (Gabbert et al., 2015, in prep) the authors have pushed forwards the hypothesis that different interview types differently influence metacognitive processes (memory confidence), and these can successively affect how information are processed.
My research looks at changes in memory confidence depending on the questioning styles of the initial recall. I am also interested in the impact these changes have on the quality of the information reported in a second recall (measured in terms of amount and accuracy). Furthermore I look at the possible implications of both initial interview types and changes in memory confidence on witnesses’ engaging into the Criminal Justice System.
I the first study mock witnesses are asked to watch a video of a robbery and are subsequently interviewed either with a a) Baseline, b) Good Practice, c) Cued Recall, and d) Free Recall Interview. Before and after the interview they all provide confidence rate in their memory for the event. They are also asked to imagine themselves as real witnesses of the event seen and provide confidence rate in their memory as to be able to collaborate with the Police. Finally they are asked to report all they have seen a second time through a written free recall report.
Further studies will be aimed to select single elements that distinguish between questioning styles to establish what causes changes in memory confidence.
Gabbert, F., Nardi, D. & Caso, A. (2015). Examining factors underlying memory conformity. (in preparation).
Gabbert, F., McGregor, A., Nardi, D. & Caso, A. (2015). Disaster victim identification: piloting a new technique to elicit highly detailed person descriptions. (in preparation).
Gabbert, F., Hope, L. & Sauer, J. (2015). Investigating differences in recall accuracy and metacognition based on type of initial recall test. (in preparation).