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Can Good Interviewing Overcome Poor Witnessing Conditions?. Ronald P. Fisher, Jillian Rivard , Drew Leins & Leoni Pludwinski Florida International University. F unded by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group / J-FBI-10- 009. The Setting.

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can good interviewing overcome poor witnessing conditions

Can Good Interviewing Overcome Poor Witnessing Conditions?

Ronald P. Fisher, Jillian Rivard,

Drew Leins & LeoniPludwinski

Florida International University

Funded by the

High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group / J-FBI-10-009

the setting
The Setting
  • Interview of detainee about meeting with terrorists
  • Witness testifying in court
interpreting inaccurate or inconsistent recollections
Interpreting inaccurate or inconsistent recollections
  • Sometimes, witness describes event incorrectly (or inconsistently)
  • We infer poor witness memory, and discount witness’ testimony
  • Alternative interpretation (poor interview)
how does poor interviewing lead to witness errors or inconsistency
How does poor interviewing lead to witness errors or inconsistency?
  • The role of metacognitive monitoring
witness s knowledge encoding vs interviewing
Witness’s Knowledge (encoding) vs. Interviewing
  • Good metacognition ensures high accuracy—even if poorly encoded
  • Which is more important: witness’s knowledge (encoding) or interviewing?
conceptual design
Conceptual Design
  • Event encoding: Good vs. Poor
  • Interview: Good vs. Poor
  • Dependent measures: accuracy and consistency
method
Method
  • N = 68 Ss
  • Event: simulate attending terrorist meeting
    • Small groups of Ss learn about strategic plan
    • Group leader provides background information, details about activities
  • Good vs. poor encoding
    • Good: information repeated, undivided attention
    • Poor: information presented once, multi-tasking
    • (cont’d)
method cont d
Method (cont’d)
  • Interviews
    • Twice: T1 = 2 days; T2 = 1 week
    • Topics: Background, strategic information, others present
  • Good vs. poor interview
    • Good: open-ended Qs; emphasize accuracy
    • Poor: open + closed Qs; emphasize quantity
  • Tape-recorded interviews transcribed + coded for accuracy and consistency
results accuracy
Results (accuracy)
  • Research Question # 1: Which is more important: knowledge (encoding) or interviewing?
  • Fig. 1a: 2 x 2 (encoding x interview)
  • Coded for accuracy
  • The pattern:
    • Interviewingis more important than encoding
    • For good interview, good encoding = poor encoding
    • Only for bad interview is good encoding > poor encoding
results contradictions
Results (contradictions)
  • Parallel to earlier analysis, but coded for contradictions
  • The pattern:
    • Interviewing is more important then encoding
    • Good encoding = poor encoding for good interview
courtroom practice
Courtroom Practice
  • Cross-examination strategy – to elicit errors or inconsistencies by baiting witness to answer low-confidence questions (lower metacognitivethreshhold)
  • Attorney argues that witness errors and inconsistencies reflects poor witness knowledge or memory
relation between consistency and overall witness accuracy
Relation between consistency and overall witness accuracy
  • Attorney’s “logic” re: inconsistency and accuracy; predict strong correlations
  • Data from the present and other studies show weak correlations
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Primacy of metacognition (interviewing)
  • For accuracy, interviewing is more important than encoding
  • Good interviewing overcomes bad encoding (& also retention interval: Evans & Fisher, 2011)
final comment on attorney cross examination practices
Final Comment on Attorney Cross-examination Practices
  • Attorney tactics work effectively to convince jurors
  • Attorney arguments are not supported by empirical evidence
  • Jurors fall prey to attorney tactics, because they undervalue the role of metacognition and interviewing.
questions
Questions?

This work is funded by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group / J-FBI-10-009 awarded to Ronald Fisher. 

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.