Who? What? When? Use of a novel timeline technique to facilitate recall of a complex event

Hope, Lorraine; Mullis, Rebecca and Gabbert, Fiona. 2013. Who? What? When? Use of a novel timeline technique to facilitate recall of a complex event. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(1), pp. 20-24. ISSN 2211-3681 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Accurately recalling a complex multi-actor incident presents witnesses with a cognitively demanding retrieval task. Given the important role played by temporal context in the retrieval process, the current research tests an innovative timeline technique to elicit information about multiple perpetrators and their actions. Adopting a standard mock witness paradigm, participants were required to provide an account of a witnessed event. In Experiment 1, the timeline technique facilitated the reporting of more correct details than a free recall, immediately and at a two-week retention interval, at no cost to accuracy. Accounts provided using the timeline technique included more correct information about perpetrator specific actions and fewer sequencing errors. Experiment 2 examined which mnemonic components of the timeline technique might account for these effects. The benefits of exploiting memory organization and reducing cognitive constraints on information flow are likely to underpin the apparent timeline advantage.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Memory; Eyewitness memory; Investigative interview; Timeline; Episodic memory; Police interview

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


March 2013Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Sep 2014 14:34

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 15:09

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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