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The psychological literature suggests that establishing rapport between interviewer and subject — whether in clinical, experimental or forensic settings — is likely to enhance the quality of the interaction. Yet there are surprisingly few studies that test this assumption. This article reports a study of the effect of rapport on eyewitness recall of a dramatic videotaped event by creating three interviewer-attitude conditions — “rapport”, “neutral” and “abrupt”. Participants were randomly assigned to the three conditions, and recall was elicited by two methods — free narrative and a semi-structured questionnaire. The results indicate participants in the rapport interview recalled more correct information, and the same amount of incorrect information as participants in the other two conditions. However, prompting via the semi-structured questionnaire yielded additional correct as well as incorrect information for the neutral and abrupt conditions. The results are discussed for their relevance to interviews conducted in forensic settings, and to highlight the need for more specific and improved interview training for police and other justice personnel.
This document has been peer reviewed.