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Understanding rapport-building in investigative interviews: Does rapport''s effect on witness memory and suggestibility depend on the interviewer?

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $24,999)

The purpose of this research is to examine the importance of the investigator when building rapport and whether rapport may also increase witness suggestibility. Specifically, the study will examine the effects of change in interviewer and interviewer suggestion after rapport.

The study will use a robbery mock crime scenario and one hundred and thirty-six participant witnesses (male and female undergraduate student volunteers from Florida International University, expected to be at least 60% Hispanic, 20% white, 10% black and 5% other) will view a videotaped crime followed by rapport-building or a standard police interview about non-crime related details (the rapport manipulation). Two days later the participants will return to the lab and be interviewed about the mock crime they witnessed either by the same or a different interviewer from the first day. All witnesses will be interviewed first using open-ended questions about the event, victim, suspect, and location followed by a series of specific questions containing both correct and incorrect leading information about the crime (the suggestibility manipulation). Videotaped and transcribed witness reports will be scored for accurate and false information by two independent raters. Scored data will be compared between rapport and standard interview, same versus different interviewer and correct-leading versus incorrect-leading questions, including possible interactions.

Date Created: August 23, 2012