6.1.3 – Cognitive interview and ethical interview techniques

  • Attempts to maximise the accuracy of the information, in order to reduce false convictions.
  • Based on 2 assumptions:
    • memories of events are based on multiple assumption –> multiple ways to cue a memory
    • retrieval is more effective if you reinstate the context.

Therefore, the following techniques are used in the cognitive interview:

(1) Reinstate the context at the time of the event

(2) Report everything

(3) Recall events in reverse order.

(4) Change the perspective

No leading questions are used.

This minimises the chance of the witness using schemas to fill in the gaps, increasing the accuracy.


(+) Geiselman et al (1985) – Cognitive Interview is more effective than standard interviews because it gains more information, but the information isn’t more accurate.

(-) Considering another perspective may cause speculation.

(-) More expensive than a standard interview as it needs specialist training