Effects of cooperation on information disclosure in mock‐witness interviews

Alejandra de la Fuente Vilar*, Robert Horselenberg, Leif A. Stromwall, Sara Landström, Lorraine Hope, Peter J. van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Forensic interviewers often face witnesses who are unwilling to cooperate with the investigation. In this experimental study, we examined the extent to whichcooperativeness instructions affect information disclosure in a witness investigative interview.

Methods: One hundred and thirty-six participants watched a recorded mock-crime andwere interviewed twice as mock-witnesses. They were randomly assigned to one of four conditions instructing different levels of cooperativeness: Control (no instructions), Cooperation, No Cooperation, and No Cooperation plus Cooperation. The cooperativeness instructions aimed to influence how participants’ perceived the costs and benefits of cooperation. We predicted that Cooperation and No Cooperation instructions would increase and decrease information disclosure and accuracy, respectively.

Results: We found decreased information disclosure and, to a lesser extent, accuracy in the No Cooperation and No Cooperation plus Cooperation conditions. In a second interview, the shift of instructions from No Cooperation to Cooperation led to a limited increase of information disclosure at no cost of accuracy. Cooperativeness instructions partially influenced the communication strategies participants used to disclose orwithhold information.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the detrimental effects of uncooperativenesson information disclosure and, to a lesser extent, the accuracy of witness statements. We discuss the implications of a lack of witness cooperation and the importance of gainingwitness cooperation to facilitate information disclosure in investigative interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • cooperation
  • eyewitness memory
  • information disclosure
  • investigative interviewing
  • information elicitation
  • witness statement
  • cost-benefit analysis

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