Project Details


In interviews, police officers need to be very careful about the way they question eyewitnesses so they do not confuse them or cause them to report they saw something they did not. While a large amount of research has shown that they way questions are worded can influence the way witnesses answer them, it has recently been revealed that eyewitness can also be misled nonverbally; through hand gestures. For instance, stroking one’s chin when enquiring about a man’s appearance can lead witnesses into reporting that the man had a beard and performing a ‘stabbing’ gesture can cause witnesses to report that they witnessed a stabbing.

Clearly, the effects of nonverbal (or gestural) misinformation can potentially be very serious. This research is particularly important given that police officers are not generally aware of their gestures or their effects and, while interviews are always audio-recorded (to capture any verbal misinformation), they are not video-recorded. Therefore, any potential influence from gestures would occur ‘off the radar’.

To remedy this, police officers should receive training on how to avoid gestural misinformation so that accurate eyewitness testimony can be given. It is the goal of this project to make police officers aware of the effects of nonverbal misinformation in police interviews by producing informational booklets that summarise key information about this research and a training video to demonstrate the effects of nonverbal misinformation visually.
Effective start/end date4/01/1630/06/16


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