CREST Guide: The Cognitive Interview

Cognitive Interview guide
This CREST Guide is an overview of an interviewing protocol – the Cognitive Interview – which aims to improve the recall of accurate and reliable information from interviewees.

The Cognitive Interview is a theory and evidence-based approach which addresses three primary psychological processes that underlie interviews with cooperative interviewees:

  1. the social dynamics between the interviewee and interviewer,
  2. the interviewee’s and interviewer’s cognitive processes, and
  3. communication between the interviewee and interviewer.

This approach can be used, with a co-operative interviewee, in any debrief or interview where the goal is to elicit detailed information. The guide outlines the Cognitive Interview as a set of phases to be worked through. However, to be used effectively in the field it should be implemented as a toolbox of skills to be used strategically, including only those elements that are appropriate for the specific interview, and modifying or adapting the various elements as the situation demands.

You can download the guide here: 16-006-01.pdf. The guide will take 15 minutes to read. CREST researcher Professor Becky Milne (University of Portsmouth) is an expert on the techniques referred to in this guide and the training and evaluation of police officers to use them. This guide draws on her work, please contact CREST if you would like more information.

Creative Commons License
As part of CREST’s commitment to open access research this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For more details on how you can use our content read this.