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The acute effect of alcohol on memory: When is the best time to interview alcohol intoxicated eyewitnesses?

Authors Angelica Hagsand
Emma Roos Af Hjelmsäter
Pär-Anders Granhag
Claudia Fahlke
Anna Söderpalm Gordh
Published in Poster presenterad på Svenska Föreningen för Alkohol och Droger (SAD), 2013-11-21, Uppsala, Sverige.
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Alcohol, eyewitnesses, memory, recall
Subject categories Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology), Applied Psychology, Cognitive science


Introduction. Many violent crimes involve alcohol intoxicated eyewitnesses, but there are only a few studies on how alcohol affects eyewitness memory. Aim. Do eyewitnesses recall more (and more accurate) details if they are interviewed when being intoxicated immediately after a crime or at a delayed recall in a sober state when more time has passed? Methods. The participants (N = 100) were randomly assigned to a 2 (Beverage: control, 0.0 g/kg vs. alcohol, 0.7 g/kg) x 2 (Recall trial: immediate and delayed vs. delayed only) mixed design. After a 15 minutes consumption time, a staged kidnapping on film was shown. Half of the participants (N = 48) were interviewed immediately and all (N = 99) had a one week delayed recall. Results. Intoxicated eyewitnesses were less accurate than sober witnesses. Alcohol did not affect the amount of reported information. Eyewitnesses, regardless of intoxication level, remembered more and were more accurate at the immediate recall, than eyewitnesses who did only have a delayed recall. Conclusions. This study shows the importance of conducting an immediate interview, even when the witnesses are intoxicated with a low to moderate blood alcohol concentration.

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