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Bottled memories: On how alcohol affects eyewitness recall

Journal article
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Emma Roos Af Hjelmsäter
Pär-Anders Granhag
Claudia Fahlke
Anna Söderpalm Gordh
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages 188–195
ISSN 0036-5564
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Department of Psychology
Pages 188–195
Language en
Keywords Alcohol, eyewitness memory, recall, delayed interview, intoxicated witnesses
Subject categories Cognitive science, Applied Psychology


This study investigated how different doses of alcohol affected eyewitness recall. Participants (N = 126) were randomly assigned to three groups with different blood alcohol concentration (BAC), either a control group (mean BAC 0.00%, N = 42), a lower alcohol dose group (mean BAC 0.04%, N = 40), or a higher alcohol dose group (mean BAC 0.06%, N = 44). After consumption, participants witnessed a movie of a mock crime and were interviewed one week later. The main results showed that witnesses with the higher intoxication level recalled fewer details compared to witnesses with the lower intoxication level. The amount of alcohol consumed did not have an impact on the accuracy rate. No sex differences were found. The results are discussed in the light of past research. We conclude that more studies are needed before recommendations can be made to an applied setting. Key words: Alcohol, eyewitness memory, recall, delayed interview, intoxicated witnesses.

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