CREST Outputs



Memory at the Sharp End: The Costs of Remembering With Others in Forensic Contexts

In many applied contexts where accurate and reliable information informs operational decision‐making, emergency response resource allocation, efficient investigation, judicial process, and, ultimately, the delivery of justice, the costs of unfettered conversational remembering can be high. To date, research has demonstrated that conversations between co‐witnesses in the immediate aftermath of witnessed events and co‐witness retellings of witnessed events often impair both the quality and quantity of information reported subsequently. Given the largely negative impact of conversational remembering on the recall of both individual witnesses and groups of witnesses in this context, this review explores the reasons why these costs occur, the conditions under which costs are exacerbated, and how, in practical terms, the costs can be reduced in order to maximize the accuracy and completeness of witness accounts.

(From the journal abstract)

Lorraine Hope, and Fiona Gabbert. 2018. ‘Memory at the Sharp End: The Costs of Remembering With Others in Forensic Contexts’. Topics in Cognitive Science:

Authors: Lorraine Hope, Fiona Gabbert
Facilitating recall and particularisation of repeated events in adults using a multi-method interviewing format

Reports about repeated experiences tend to include more schematic information than information about specific instances. However, investigators in both forensic and intelligence settings typically seek specific over general information. We tested a multi-method interviewing format (MMIF) to facilitate recall and particularisation of repeated events through the use of the self-generated cues mnemonic, the timeline technique, and follow-up questions. Over separate sessions, 150 adult participants watched four scripted films depicting a series of meetings in which a terrorist group planned attacks and planted explosive devices. For half of our sample, the third witnessed event included two deviations (one new detail and one changed detail). A week later, participants provided their account using the MMIF, the timeline technique with self-generated cues, or a free recall format followed by open-ended questions. As expected, more information was reported overall in the MMIF condition compared to the other format conditions, for two types of details, correct details, and correct gist details. The reporting of internal intrusions was comparable across format conditions. Contrary to hypotheses, the presence of deviations did not benefit recall or source monitoring. Our findings have implications for information elicitation in applied settings and for future research on adults’ retrieval of repeated events.

(From the journal abstract)

Kontogianni, F., Rubinova, E., Hope, L., Taylor, P. J., Vrij, A., & Gabbert, F. (2021). Facilitating recall and particularisation of repeated events in adults using a multi-method interviewing format. Memory, 29(4), 471–485.

Authors: Feni Kontogianni, Lorraine Hope, Paul Taylor, Aldert Vrij, Fiona Gabbert
Examining the efficacy of a digital version of the Self-Administered Interview


The Self-Administered Interview (SAI©) is an investigative tool designed to facilitate the reporting of comprehensive initial statements by witnesses. Given increasing use of technology to communicate, many witnesses may prefer to provide investigators with accounts of what they have seen using online or mobile reporting platforms. Research shows that the SAI© elicits more accurate information from witnesses than other reporting formats. To date, however, the SAI© has only been tested in a paper-based format. The aim of the current research was to examine whether the benefits of the SAI© for witness reporting extend to digital reporting formats.


In two experiments, we examined whether completing the SAI© on a computer or mobile device (as opposed to using a paper-based format) had any effect on the quantity or quality of information reported by mock witnesses. We also assessed whether the format of the initial report had any impact on performance in a delayed recall test.


Based on available research on use of technology, we expected that witness accounts would be shorter when provided via mobile devices than via other formats. Drawing on past research outlined in the Introduction, we predicted that less detailed initial accounts would affect the quality of subsequent accounts.


We found no differences between computer, mobile, or paper-based formats with respect to the quantity or quality of information reported in the SAI© or content of follow-up reports collected one-week later.


The findings suggest that administering the SAI© in online or mobile formats is unlikely to be detrimental to witness reporting. Given the time and resource costs associated with paper forms, as well as the additional functionality that digital presentation may afford, a digital SAI© may prove to be a useful investigative tool.

(From the journal abstract)

Gabbert, F., Hope, L., Horry, R., Drain, T. & Hughes, C. (2022) Examining the efficacy of a digital version of the Self-Administered Interview, Computers in Human Behavior Reports,

Authors: Fiona Gabbert, Lorraine Hope

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