Providing eyewitnesses with initial retrieval support: What works at immediate and subsequent recall?

Krix, Alana; Sauerland, Melanie; Gabbert, Fiona and Hope, Lorraine. 2014. Providing eyewitnesses with initial retrieval support: What works at immediate and subsequent recall? Psychology, Crime and Law, 20(10), pp. 1005-1027. ISSN 1068-316X [Article]

Krix et al., 2014, PC&L accepted version.pdf

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Abstract or Description

The effect of retrieval support on eyewitness recall was investigated in two experiments. Based on the outshining hypothesis, Experiment 1 tested whether retrieval support enhances witness performance (compared to free recall) especially when witnessing conditions are suboptimal (e.g., because witnesses were distracted during the crime). Eighty-eight participants watched a videotaped crime with either full or divided attention and subsequently received retrieval support with the Self-Administered Interview© (SAI) or completed a free recall (FR). One week later (Time 2 – T2) all participants completed a second FR. Unexpectedly, retrieval support did not lead to better memory performance than FR under divided attention conditions, suggesting that retrieval support is not effective to overcome adverse effects of divided attention. Moreover, presence of retrieval support at Time 1 (T1) had no effect on memory performance at T2. Experiment 2 (N = 81) tested the hypothesis that these T2-results were due to a reporting issue undermining the memory-preserving effect of T1-retrieval support by manipulating retrieval support (SAI vs. FR) at T1 and T2. As expected, T1-retrieval support led to increased accuracy at T2. Thus, the beneficial value of T1-retrieval support seems greatest with high-quality T2-interviews. Interviewers should consider this when planning a subsequent interview.

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Additional Information:

This research was supported by a PhD scholarship from Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation) awarded to the first author.


eyewitness testimony, outshining hypothesis, self-administered interview, divided attention, retrieval support

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit



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Date Deposited:

23 Sep 2014 09:44

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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