Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Ronald Fisher

First Advisor's Committee Title

committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Deborah Goldfarb

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Jacqueline Evans

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Robert Guerette

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Cognitive Interview, Investigative Utility, Conversations, Investigative Interviewing, Telephone Interviews

Date of Defense



In human-intelligence-gathering contexts, informants or persons of interest are often interviewed about a conversation they overheard. The information gathered from these conversations may be important for national security, and therefore, the most accurate information needs to be elicited. The current project consisted of two studies that extended the previous literature on the Cognitive Interview (CI). Study 1 (1) tested the CI (compared to a structured interview, SI) in the context of memory for conversations and (2) investigated the effects of modality by comparing in-person interviews to telephone interviews. The CI is a theory-based interview protocol that has been shown to enhance witness recall but can also be used in a variety of contexts outside the legal system, as it is a process-oriented approach to interviewing (Fisher & Geiselman, 2019). However, little research has been conducted on memory for conversations, with even fewer studies using the most updated version of the CI to enhance memory recall for conversations. The current study was the first to compare in-person and telephone interviews on the amount of information gathered. In Study 1, the CI elicited more correct details than the SI, suggesting that the CI is an effective tool for eliciting conversation details. In addition, there were no significant effects of modality, suggesting that interviewers will not lose vital information when conducting an interview over the telephone (compared to in-person). Interviews from Study 1 were transcribed and presented to other student participants (Study 2)—playing the role of law enforcement analysts—to see if the CI-generated details helped the “analysts” stop an upcoming crime. (In the real-world, analysts assist interviewers to interpret information and help make decisions about future actions and disseminate the information to the broader intelligence and law enforcement communities; Russano et al., 2014.) Results of Study 2 suggest that the type of coding scheme used (strict vs. lenient) may affect the potency of the CI effect. The CI’s superiority over the SI occurred only when a complete, exacting response was required, which suggests that the CI will be most useful for crime solutions that required detailed descriptions.





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