When we think of cognitive psychology we could think of numerous different things, but one aspect that most people probably don’t know about, that has been proven to be priceless to law enforcement and has help to solve countless crimes is the cognitive interview. A cognitive interview is a way of interviewing used primarily in cold cases when the interviewee has trouble with recollecting the events of that day, or time period.
A cognitive interview is administered by having people use their senses to recall past events. Its starts with a detective asking the witness to start telling their story with the very beginning of their day (the day the crime happened) and recalling all the events of the day in order from start to finish, the finish being the point at which they witnessed the crime or event. Once the person gets to the point of their story where they recall all the information they can about the crime they are asked to recall their day again, but this time backwards. The interviewee is asked to start their recollection process with the point in which they were witness to event or crime and then go backward back through their whole day, so in other words they are going from ending to beginning.
For instance a detective would ask someone; what time did you wake up that day? What did you eat for breakfast? Do you recall what the weather was like that day? The point of this is to try to draw as many details as possible out of the witness using all of their senses. By doing this it takes the witness (mentally) back to that date and time and they will then be able to recall more events than they would have previously been able to if they have been simple asked to “tell their story”, or asked “what they remember”.
In the final part of the interview, the interviewee is asked to tell their story one last time, in this last time the detective is constantly reminding them of all the details the person has previously told them, this tends to bring out even more subconscious details that might have been forgotten or overlooked by the person. The final product usually results in a tremendous amount of details being recollected about an event a person might have thought they “forgot” most of.
This interview technique has been used to solve countless crimes and continues to be a reliable and proven successful method of interviewing a witness to a crime. If you would like to read more information pertaining to a cognitive interview visit http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-interview.html or http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1985-22506-001.