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Remembering remotely: would video-mediation impair witnesses' memory reports?

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Witnesses often experience lengthy delays prior to being interviewed, during which their memories inevitably decay. Video-communication technology – favored by intergovernmental organizations for playing larger roles in judicial processes – might circumvent some of the resourcing problems that can exacerbate such delays. However, whereas video-mediation might facilitate expeditious interviewing, it might also harm rapport-building, make witnesses uncomfortable, and thereby undermine the quality and detail of their reports. Participants viewed a crime film and were interviewed either one day later via video-link, one day later face-to-face, or 1–2 weeks later face-to-face. Video-mediation neither influenced the detail or the accuracy of participants' reports, nor their ratings of the quality of the interviews. However, participants who underwent video-mediated interviews after a short delay gave more accurate, detailed reports than participants who waited longer to be interviewed face-to-face. This study provides initial empirical evidence that video-mediated communication (VMC) could facilitate the expeditious conduct of high-quality investigative interviews.
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Keywords: eyewitness memory; interviewing; rapport-building; videoconferencing; virtual justice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK 2: Department of Psychology, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA

Publication date: September 14, 2014

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