Category Archives: Interviewing Witnesses

Fisher et al., (1986)

Fisher et al., (1986) – ‘Enhancement of eyewitness memory with the cognitive interview’, American Journal of Psychology


This study is also referred to as:

  • Fisher et al., (1986)
  • Fisher and Geiselman (1986)
  • Geiselman et al., (1986)


Fisher et al., (1986) focuses on police interviews of witnesses.

What is an interview?

An interview is simply trying to elicit information from a person or witness, while keeping the information valid. This is easier said than done. You may remember two studies from AS: Loftus et al., (1974) and Samuel and Bryant (1984), which demonstrate this.  Firstly, Loftus showed the impact that leading questions could have upon participant recall and she concluded that an actual change in memory had occurred. Memory is easily malleable, changing how a question is asked can change the memory itself. Secondly, Samuel and Bryant showed the impact of repeating the same question. Repeating the same question to children will cause them to completely change their answer, even if their answers were perfectly correct.

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Loftus et al., (1987)

Loftus et al., (1987) – Some Facts About “Weapon Focus”, Journal of Law and Human Behaviour 11 (1), 55–62



This is the second study we look at from the ‘Interviewing Witnesses’ section of ‘Making a case’. As part of your OCR A2 Psychology Exam. It is further categorised into ‘Weapons Focus and Factors Affecting Reconstruction.

“‘Weapon Focus’ refers to the concentration of a crime witness’s attention on a weapon, and the resultant reduction in ability to remember other details of the crime.”

When a weapon such as a gun is present during a crime. Witness recall of the offender is significantly reduced. The reason behind this is witnesses tend to focus on the weapon, not the offender. This is due to attentional narrowing, which Loftus believed is present due to evolution.

Good news! There is not a background study for this study!

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Frowd et al., (2007)

Frowd et al., (2007) – The relative importance of external and internal features of facial composites


This is the first study we look at from the ‘Interviewing Witnesses’ section of ‘Making a case’. As part of your OCR A2 Psychology Exam. It is further categorised into ‘Facial Reconstruction.’

Research by both Fantz and Goldstein and Chance highlight the perceptual preference for faces. This leads to increased memory of faces. Fantz showed newborns this image:

Fantz's Face Shapes, Fantz Psychology faces
Fantz’s Face Shapes

The babies all spend the longest time looking at the face on the left. Thus demonstrating an innate human preference for looking at faces.

Goldstein and Spencer showed participants unique images such as snowflakes, ink blots and faces. They found statistically significantly more faces were recalled than any of the other images.

Sinha’s Meta analyisis of stranger face reconstruction (2006) concluded with eight key points.

Firstly, try to identify this image:

Can you see who it is?
Can you see who it is?

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