Paper in Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology
- Mackay, T.L., Paterson, H.M. (2015). How does timing of recall affect eyewitness memory and psychological distress?. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 30 (4) pp. 242-253.
Immediate-recall tools, such as the Self-Administered Interview (SAI; Gabbert, Hope, & Fisher, 2009), have been designed to improve eyewitness performance by eliciting a comprehensive initial report. However, preliminary evidence suggests that such tools may increase psychological distress when the witnessed event is traumatic. Literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggests that delaying administration of the SAI after witnessing trauma may be appropriate and may prevent harmful psychological effects. The first aim of this study was to investigate the psychological effects of delayed as opposed to immediate administration of the SAI after witnessing a traumatic event. The second aim of this study was to investigate whether this delay would then affect the SAI as a tool for improving eyewitness performance at a later stage. Eighty participants viewed a trauma-analogous video and then completed the SAI immediately, after one day, or not at all. Despite finding increases in anxiety after its completion, the SAI was not found to have an effect on PTSD symptoms at follow-up conducted one week later, irrespective of whether it was completed immediately or after a delay. On the other hand, delaying the SAI reduced memory performance and rendered it ineffective as a tool for improving memory.