Chair: Feni Kontogianni

LT 5&6, Tuesday 19th, 1530 – 1730

Heather Flowe / Madeleine Ingham

Professor | University of Birmingham
Postgraduate | University of Birmingham

Behavioural indicators of accurate recall: Harnessing meta-memory processes during police interviews during rape investigations to gauge accuracy

Session: Panel 2: Developments in interviewing techniques (LT5)

We examined victim meta-memory processes (MMPs) over the course of a phased police interview, wherein police ask the victim to provide a free recall account during the first phase of the interview and then follow-up with focused questions in the next phase. MMPs encompass self-awareness about how well one remembers different parts of the crime (i.e., assessments of memory strength for particular details), and strategies that one uses to enhance memory performance. Theoretically, details that are strongly rather than weakly remembered are associated with substantial source information, recalled early, more likely to be accurate, and are recalled with greater certainty. To test this, research participants encoded an interactive rape scenario and were interviewed about it a week later using a simulated police interview. Interviews were coded for accuracy and the presence of MMPs (e.g., pauses and filler words), which are indicative of uncertainty. MMPs were present more often in the free recall phase of the interview wherein the participant controlled their memory reporting compared to the question phase. Further, details were more likely to be inaccurately recalled if they were preceded by an MMP, and the size of this effect was large. The implications for security contexts will be discussed.

Co-authors: Melissa Colloff and Brittany Gibbs, University of Birmingham


Adam Charles Harvey

Lecturer | University of the West of England

Enhancing deception detection in insurance claims settings: examining the effectiveness of variant Reality Interviews

Session: Panel 2: Developments in interviewing techniques (LT5)

The Reality Interview ‘RI’ is a proactive interviewing protocol designed to aid credibility assessment in police-suspect interviewing contexts. The full RI is time-intensive and is not well-suited as a screening tool. Our study investigates the effectiveness of four shortened RI variants to distinguish genuine and fabricated statements in an insurance claim setting. For each variant, we removed components of the original RI and experimentally manipulated providing either a Free-Recall, Reverse Order, Change Perspective, or Guided Peripheral Focus instruction (a mnemonic encouraging interviewee to transfer focus from retrieval of central elements to the recall of peripheral ones) at the third and final recall attempt. Participants (n = 201) either provided a genuine (n =100) or fabricated (n = 101) statement when interviewed. Truth-tellers provided a statement regarding an item that had been lost or stolen in the previous three years’ worth between £100 and £1,000. In contrast, lie-tellers pretended to have lost an item of equivalent value within the previous three years. Truth-tellers and lie-tellers were randomly assigned to each interview condition. We examined the effectiveness of overall reported detail and the effectiveness of distinguishing between core and peripheral details as dependent measures. Key findings will be discussed.

Co-authors: Professor Kevin Colwell, Southern Connecticut State University; Dr Rachel Taylor, University of South Wales; Dr Cody Porter, University of the West of England


Jennifer Burkhardt

PhD | University of Portsmouth

Examining a new interview technique to gather information and elicit cues to deceit: The Ghostwriter Method

Session: Panel 2: Developments in interviewing techniques (LT5)

This is the second experiment ever conducted to examine a new lie detection tool: the Ghostwriter (GW) Method. We examined its effect on eliciting information, cues to deceit and the technique’s working mechanisms.160 participants were asked to either tell the truth or construct a false story regarding a recent trip. They were allocated to a Control condition, a GW condition (in which they were asked to imagine talking to a ghostwriter) and a GW-enhanced condition (in which the GW concept was explained in greater detail). The dependent variables were details, complications, common knowledge details, self-handicapping strategies, proportion of complications, plausibility, verifiable sources and unstructured production.

Participants in the GW-enhanced condition provided more information and cues to deceit than participants in the other two conditions. Overall, statements of truth-tellers sounded more plausible and included more details and complications than lie tellers’ statements. The Ghostwriter method seems to be a promising tool for obtaining more information and cues to deceit.

Co-authors: Professor Aldert Vrij, Dr Sharon Leal and Dr Zarah Vernahm, University of Portsmouth


Cody Normitta Porter

Senior Lecturer | UWE Bristol

Developing an ‘Asymmetric Information Management’ (AIM) technique

Session: Panel 2: Developments in interviewing techniques (LT2)

Detecting deception is difficult and research shows that liars can, when prompted, provide more detailed statements. As such, interview protocols to improve lie-detection should encourage forthcoming verbal strategies from truth tellers, while encouraging withholding verbal strategies from liars.

We propose a new technique designed to achieve both. That is, to elicit information from truthful (but not deceptive) suspects. This is achieved by providing all suspects with instructions informing them that detailed statements are easier to classify as genuine or fabricated. These instructions create an asymmetric information management (AIM) dilemma that can only be solved by truth tellers and liars adopting different verbal strategies during the interview. This talk will provide an overview of the emerging research with our main collaborators.

So far, the AIM technique has been examined in both police suspect interviewing and insurance contexts, as well as through online and in-person settings. The next stages of our research involves developing methods for enhancing the AIM’s effectiveness, as well as assessing the instructions robustness to counter measures. 

Co-authors: Adam Harvey, UWE Bristol; Rachel Taylor, University of South Wales; Alistair Harvey, University of Portsmouth; Ed Morrison, University of Portsmouth

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