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Alcohol-intoxicated eyewitnesses’ memory: The effects of recall format, recall time, and repeated interviewing

Conference contribution
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Emma Roos Af Hjelmsäter
Pär-Anders Granhag
Claudia Fahlke
Anna Söderpalm Gordh
Published in Annual convention for Association for Psychological Science (APS), 2015-05-22, New York City, USA
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords intoxicated, witnesses, recall, immediate, delayed, repeated, free, cued
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Intoxicated eyewitnesses are common, but are often discredited by investigators and in courts. The aim was to examine how intoxication (control vs. alcohol), recall format (free vs. cued), recall time (immediate vs. one week delayed), and repeated interviewing affects witnesses’ memory. The participants (N = 99) were randomly assigned to consume either juice or alcohol (0.7 g/kg), and they then witnessed a filmed staged crime. The participants were asked for a free recall followed by cued recall, either a) immediately and after a one week delay or b) only after a one week delay. Intoxicated witnesses recalled the same amount of information as sober ones in the cued recall phase, but significantly less details than sober ones in the free recall phase. However, all witnesses recalled more details and had a higher accuracy rate in free recall compared to cued recall. Overall, there was no difference between sober and intoxicated witnesses with respect to their accuracy rate. Also, all witnesses reported more details and were more accurate at the immediate compared to the delayed recall. However, conducting two recalls were more superior to one recall, since all witnesses recalled new details with relatively high accuracy at the second recall. Results are discussed in the light of their theoretical and applied relevance.

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