Uncooperative Witnesses and their Inclination to Disclose Information

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Police rely on witness testimony to advance criminal investigations; however, witnesses do not always cooperate. Despite the importance of witness cooperation for gathering information during investigative interviews, it has received little scrutiny. We examined the extent to which witness cooperation affects information disclosure, and how lack of cooperation affects the reliability of witness testimony.

Participants (N=139) watched a mock-crime video and were interviewed twice over a two-week period. They were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions: control, cooperative and two uncooperative groups. Participants in the uncooperative groups were told the police believed they participated in the crime, but before the second interview one of the uncooperative groups was informed they were not longer incriminated. In the cooperative group, participants were informed they were key witnesses, whereas those in the control condition did not receive especial instructions. The amount of information disclosed was measured in both interviews.

Data is currently being analysed and will be presented at the conference. We predict that witness cooperation level will affect information disclosure during investigative interviews. Specifically, uncooperative interviewees will disclose less detailed information, and will omit crime relevant facts, compared to those in the cooperative and control conditions. Additionally, we will examine whether memory for initially unreported information is impaired by an initial uncooperative interview

Understanding how witness cooperation affects information gathering during investigative interviews is relevant to examine the reliability of testimonies from uncooperative witnesses, and to inform interviewing practice that promotes cooperative reporting and facilitates disclosure.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
EventThe European Association of Psychology and Law Conference 2018 - Turku, Finland
Duration: 26 Jun 201829 Jun 2018


ConferenceThe European Association of Psychology and Law Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleEAPL 2018


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