EAPL 2010 abstract

Close Your Eyes and Remember: The Role of Emotion in the Eye-Closure Effect on Eyewitness Memory

Annelies Vredeveldt, Alan D. Baddeley, & Graham J. Hitch; University of York

Recent research suggests that closing one’s eyes during an investigative interview may help witnesses remember more, even after a week’s delay and for both free report and direct questioning measures. The present study was designed to investigate the role of emotion in this effect: does eye-closure improve recall of both neutral and emotional materials? Video clips of two different TV series were edited to create a violent and a non-violent version of each. Participants watched one violent and one non-violent video, during which measures of galvanic skin response and pulse were taken. Self-report measures confirmed that the violent versions were rated as significantly more violent and upsetting than the non-violent versions. In subsequent direct questioning interviews, eye-closure improved memory for both the violent and non-violent versions of the videos. Participants held more false memories for the violent compared to the non-violent videos, but eye-closure reduced these false memories for both types of videos. These findings suggest that eye-closure is a highly useful procedure for eyewitness interviews, whether they involve violent or non-violent crime.