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Uncooperative Witnesses and their Inclination to Disclose Information

Conference contribution
Authors Alejandra De La Fuente Vilar
R Horselenberg
Leif Strömwall
Sara Landström
L Hope
P J van Koppen
Published in European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) Conference. Turku, Finland: 26-29 June 2018
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Uncooperative witnesses, Information Disclosure, Eyewitness Memory, Investigative Interviewing
Subject categories Psychology


Objectives Police rely on witness testimony to advance criminal investigations; however, witnesses do not always cooperate. Despite the importance of witness cooperation for gathering information during investigative interviews, it has received little scrutiny. We examined the extent to which witness cooperation affects information disclosure, and how lack of cooperation affects the reliability of witness testimony. Method Participants (N=139) watched a mock-crime video and were interviewed twice over a two-week period. They were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions: control, cooperative and two uncooperative groups. In the cooperative group, participants were informed they were key witnesses, whereas those in the control condition did not receive especial instructions. Participants in the uncooperative groups were told the police believed they participated in the crime, but before the second interview one of the uncooperative groups was informed they were not longer incriminated. The amount of information disclosed was measured in both interviews. Results Data is currently being analysed and will be presented at the conference. We predict that witness cooperation level will affect information disclosure during investigative interviews. Specifically, uncooperative interviewees will disclose less detailed information, and will omit crime relevant facts, compared to those in the cooperative and control conditions. Additionally, we will examine whether memory for initially unreported information is impaired by an initial uncooperative interview. Conclusion Understanding how witness cooperation affects information gathering during investigative interviews is relevant to examine the reliability of testimonies from uncooperative witnesses, and to inform interviewing practice that promotes cooperative reporting and facilitates disclosure.

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