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Knowledge of the Crime Context: Improving the Understanding of Why the Cognitive Interview Works

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Since the Cognitive Interview (CI) was devised under laboratory conditions (Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon, & Holland, 1985), researchers have performed many experiments where a variety of variables and conditions have been reported. Nevertheless, few studies have attempted to delve into the theoretical aspects on which the CI is based. A variable that might help us to improve our understanding of why the CI works is prior knowledge of the crime context. Some studies have included familar contexts and others unfamiliar ones, but no study has been performed to test the effect of the familiarity of the crime context as an independent variable. The aim of this research is to study the effect of prior knowledge on subjects' memory when they are interviewed by means of the CI in contrast to a Spanish Standard Interview (SSI). A significant effect of prior knowledge that subjects had of the context where the crime took place was expected, especially for those subjects who were interviewed by means of the CI. Results confirmed this hypothesis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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