Eye-closure improves memory for a witnessed event under naturalistic conditions

A. Vredeveldt, S.D. Penrod

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Abstract Eye-closure may help people remember live and videotaped mundane events and videotaped violent events. The present study extended this research by examining memory for a forensically relevant live event (a staged verbal altercation) and by interviewing witnesses under naturalistic conditions. Ninety-six witnesses were interviewed either inside in a quiet setting or outside on a busy street, with eyes open or closed. In free recall, eye-closure significantly increased the number of correct details reported, without harming testimonial accuracy. These benefits were significant for witnesses interviewed inside but not for witnesses interviewed outside. This finding highlights the potential role of spontaneous mental context reinstatement in the eye-closure effect. In cued recall, eye-closure improved fine-grain correct recall of visual details for both groups of witnesses. From an applied perspective, the findings suggest that police interviewers should instruct witnesses to close their eyes, both during initial statements taken on the street and during full interviews conducted at the police station.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-905
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Volume19
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Eye-closure improves memory for a witnessed event under naturalistic conditions. / Vredeveldt, A.; Penrod, S.D.

In: Psychology, Crime and Law, Vol. 19, No. 10, 2013, p. 893-905.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AB - Abstract Eye-closure may help people remember live and videotaped mundane events and videotaped violent events. The present study extended this research by examining memory for a forensically relevant live event (a staged verbal altercation) and by interviewing witnesses under naturalistic conditions. Ninety-six witnesses were interviewed either inside in a quiet setting or outside on a busy street, with eyes open or closed. In free recall, eye-closure significantly increased the number of correct details reported, without harming testimonial accuracy. These benefits were significant for witnesses interviewed inside but not for witnesses interviewed outside. This finding highlights the potential role of spontaneous mental context reinstatement in the eye-closure effect. In cued recall, eye-closure improved fine-grain correct recall of visual details for both groups of witnesses. From an applied perspective, the findings suggest that police interviewers should instruct witnesses to close their eyes, both during initial statements taken on the street and during full interviews conducted at the police station.

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