Psychological dynamics of the police interview
Psychological studies have frequently demonstrated that a range of factors can affect eyewitnessing behavior. These studies, however, have tended to use 'mock' witnesses who are confronted with highly specific types of incident often under non-emotional conditions. The consequent findings seldom have applicability beyond those artificial situations created in the laboratory. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that these findings have little probative value to a court of law even though the experiments may have been designed with this in mind. The empirical work reported in this thesis investigates whether an alternative methodology to laboratory studies could produce findings that would have useful and probative value to the courts. And, if not, it addresses the question as to where the emphases in psycholegal research should be placed in future. Archival data derived from statements given to the police by witnesses to actual crimes were used. These indicated that the value of eyewitness research to the problems of determining the reliability of an eyewitness's evidence in court is dubious. It is argued, therefore, that such findings would be better applied to the pre- and post-court stages of the legel system and, in particular, to the development of police interviewing techniques. Two factors (identified from the archival research) were examined in depth under laboratory conditions to establish their usefulness in the police interview where the completeness and accuracy of report is of paramount importance. The implications of the findings presented and their usefulness to psycholegal research and police practices were discussed. It was concluded that the use of both archival- and laboratory-basedinvestigations could help to identify the strengths and weaknesses present in psycholegal research. Also, a change in emphasis from the problems of the courts to the problems associated with the gathering of evidence may mean progressively less criticism from the legal profession regarding the credibility of psycholegal research.