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When help becomes hindrance: Unexpected errors of omission and commission in eyewitness memory resulting from change temporal order at retrieval?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Associated organisational unit

Journal publication date12/2011
JournalCognition
Journal number3
Volume121
Number of pages6
Pages416-421
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

An experimental mock eyewitness study is reported that compared Free and reverse order recall of an empirically informed scripted crime event. Proponents of reverse order recall suggest it facilitates recovery of script incidental information and increases the total amount of information recalled. However, compared with free recall it was found to impair overall retrieval performance, resulting in fewer script consistent events, reduced recall of correct information, increased confabulations, and lowered accuracy proportional to items retrieved. The disruptive effects of reverse order are interpreted as providing evidence for the role of temporal clustering in guiding retrieval. Impairment induced by reverse order continued to influence retrieval negatively even during a secondary free recall phase suggesting it encourages confabulations. The results indicate that the technique should be used with caution, and only when retrieval by free recall has been exhausted.