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THE COGNITIVE INTERVIEW AND ITS EFFECT ON WITNESSES' CONFIDENCE

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Abstract:

Today there is ample evidence that the Cognitive Interview (CI) enhances witnesses' memory. However, less is known about how the CI affects eyewitnesses' confidence. To address this shortcoming we conducted a study analyzing how realism in confidence was affected by the CI. All participants (n=79) were first shown a filmed kidnapping. After 2 weeks we interviewed one-third of the participants according to the guidelines of the CI, one-third according to a Standard Interview (SI), and one-third were not interviewed at all (Control condition). Participants in all three conditions were then asked to answer 45 forced-choice questions, and to give a confidence judgment after each choice. For the 45 questions, no differences in accuracy were found between the three conditions. Confidence was higher in the CI and SI conditions, compared with the Control condition. CI and SI did not differ in metacognitive realism but both showed lower realism compared with the Control condition, although only CI significantly so. The results indicate that the inflation in confidence is more likely to be explained in terms of a reiteration effect, than as a consequence of the particular mnemonics characterizing the CI (e.g. "mental reinstatement of context"). In sum, CI does not seem to impair (or improve) the realism in witnesses' confidence, and does not inflate confidence in erroneous recall, compared to a SI.

Keywords: Calibration; Realism in Confidence; Reiteration Effect; The Cognitive Interview

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316021000030577

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology Göteborg University SE-40530 PO Box 500 Göteborg 2: Department of Psychology Lund University SE-22100 PO Box 213 Lund

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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