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Outline & Evaluate the Cognitive Interview

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Outline & Evaluate the Cognitive Interview The cognitive interview was devised by psychologists in order to eliminate the effects of misleading questions and misleading information. The process consists of first reporting everything the witness can remember, even information they believe to be unimportant. Then the witness is asked to mentally instate their experience, where they mentally use their sense to recall information. After this the witness is asked to change the order in which they recall the event, for example going backwards, and finally the witness is asked to change the perspective from which they recall the data, telling the officer the situation from above or as an onlooker. ...read more.


Also, Stein & Memon found that the cognitive interview is effective because people remember more when given cues. They made Brazilian female cleaners watch a video of an abduction, and then used the cognitive interview & standard interview to gain eyewitness reports, finding those who were in the cognitive interview condition not only recalled more, but were accurate in the information recalled. Despite this, this research can be criticised for lacking mundane realism. Previous research has found that arousal (anxiety) affects recall of eyewitness testimony, so by using videos the participants are not emotionally involved, therefore these results lack ecological validity and are not easily generalised. ...read more.


The process is now turned into more than one procedure, which means that it becomes time-consuming. Due to this many police officers do not use all of the stages of the cognitive interview, reducing its effectiveness. This was shown by Kebbell and Wagstaff, who found that in real life police use the strategy, but limit the amount of information collected to only what they feel is necessary. This neglects the purpose of the interview, as it does not help with consistency of the eyewitness account. Overall, the cognitive interview could possibly improve on the standard interview if used correctly. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a very good response. It is clearly structured, clearly written and express its idea about usefulness of the Cognitive Interview excellently. There is a good understanding of the concept of the Cognitive Interview and why it was developed, ...

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Response to the question

This is a very good response. It is clearly structured, clearly written and express its idea about usefulness of the Cognitive Interview excellently. There is a good understanding of the concept of the Cognitive Interview and why it was developed, however, a quick mention of the buzz words (the candidate describe these four main components well, but some exam boards may expect candidate to apply all appropriate terminology. These four main components are Interview Similarity (asking the witness to re-imagine, using their senses, the original crime scene); Focused Retrieval (the interview must not interrupt the witness); Extensive Retrieval (imagining the crime scene from the perspective of someone stood outside the incident); and Witness-compatible Questioning (tailoring questions to suit the witness, i.e. - a child, an autistic adult, etc.).

Another thing I would have liked to have seen are the two cognitive concepts upon which the Cognitive Interview was developed. As this lies within knowledge and understanding (AO1) and not critical evaluation (AO2), candidate are expected to show evidence that they know this. These two theories are that the mind is linked by many different pathways, hence there is more than one way to access the same piece of information. The other is that if the context of the crime is successfully reinstated (sights, smells, sounds witness at the time and place of the original crime) then accuracy of retrieval will be maximised. These simple buzz words ,ay seem irrelevant, but they would improve the answer to maximum marks.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is, as always with psychology essays, prescriptive, but very effective. The candidate makes a balanced argument both supporting and refuting the effectivity of the Cognitive Interview (quite a challenge seeing as it is unequivocally an unrivalled method of interview). There are studies and valid empirical evidence cited where possible and these help fortify the analysis and discussion, as it shows studies have been researched and will substantially uphold the ideas candidate's critique.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is flawless. Great care has been taken to ensure the information presented in this essay is presented clearly and precisely. The candidate utilises a number of psychology-orientated terminology (bar a few) and applies them correctly. From an English perspective, there is no concern to voice about the quality of grammar, spelling or punctuation.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 09/08/2012

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