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Annelies Vredeveldt’s research brings about a paradigm shift in eyewitness interviewing

08.01.2020 17:43

The findings of Branco Weiss Alumna Annelies Vredeveldt have up-put an end to traditional views on discussion between eyewitnesses and inspired the introduction of a new investigative tool: the collaborative eyewitness interview.

Before Annelies started this line of research the reigning view in legal psychology was that eyewitnesses should be strictly prevented from discussing a witnessed event with each other. This view was based on previous research where conditions were manipulated to maximize the likelihood of error. In her Branco Weiss research project, the aim was to study discussions between two genuine eyewitnesses to gain more insight into potential costs and benefits of collaboration between witnesses in realistic settings.

The findings across five experiments were remarkably consistent: two witnesses who participated in a collaborative interview made significantly fewer errors than two witnesses who were interviewed individually. The witnesses even started remembering new details that neither of them had mentioned before. After collecting these experimental findings, Annelies started a field study in collaboration with various police units in The Netherlands. Those units are currently conducting collaborative interviews with real eyewitnesses of serious crimes, to examine whether this new procedure can contribute to the police investigation and/or the gathering of evidence in criminal cases.

Read more about Annelies Vredeveldt’s research in our new Science Stories section.