A comfortable witness is a good witness: rapport-building and susceptibility to misinformation in an investigative mock-crime interview

Authors

  • Jonathan P. Vallano,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Florida International University, USA
    2. Division of Behavioral Sciences, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, USA
    • Division of Behavioral Sciences, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, 150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601, USA.
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  • Nadja Schreiber Compo

    1. Department of Psychology, Florida International University, USA
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Abstract

Major investigative interviewing protocols such as the Cognitive Interview recommend that investigators build rapport with cooperative adult witnesses at the beginning of a police interview. Although research substantiates the benefits of rapport-building on the accuracy of child witness reports, few studies have examined whether similar benefits apply to adult witnesses. The present study investigated whether verbal rapport-building techniques increase adult witness report accuracy and decrease their susceptibility to post-event misinformation. One-hundred eleven college adults viewed a videotaped mock-crime, received post-event misinformation (or correct information) about the crime, and were subsequently interviewed by a research assistant who built rapport (or did not build rapport) before recalling the mock-crime. Results indicated that rapport-building increased the quality of witness recall by decreasing the percentage of inaccurate and misinformation reported, particularly in response to open-ended questions. We discuss implications and recommendations for law enforcement. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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