'I Use What I Use': Estonian Investigators' Knowledge of Investigative Interviewing

Author:Kristjan Kask
Position:Ph.D., Researcher, University of Tartu
Kristjan Kask
Ph.D., Researcher
University of Tartu
‘I Use What I Use’:
Estonian Investigators’
Knowledge of Investigative Interviewing*1
1. Introduction
The information obtained from witnesses and victims in criminal investigation is important evidence, with
a signi cant effect on the overall result.*2 In recent decades, the effect of structured interviewing methods,
such as the cognitive interview, on both child and adult witnesses’ accounts has been thoroughly studied;
however, there has been less research examining which cognitive interview techniques are used more and
how effective these techniques are.
The cognitive interview is one of the most effective procedures for enhancing witnesses’ memory.*3
The original version of this technique consisted of four main elements: 1) reinstatement of mental context,
2) reporting of everything, 3) recall of events in different order, and 4) a change in perspective.*4 Later, the
‘enhanced’ cognitive interview was developed*5, a form with additional instructions, establishment of rap-
port, transfer of control of the interview to the witness, ensuring of questions’ compatibility with the wit-
ness’s background and state, encouragement to use focused retrieval, and application of imagery.
Cognitive interviews have been effective when compared to standard police interviews.*6 Koehnken,
Thurer, and Zoberbier*7 have found that cognitive interviews produced 35% more information than did
standard interviews. Also, effectiveness of the ‘enhanced’ form has been demonstrated.*8 Although there is
an increase in the absolute quantity of incorrect information when the cognitive interview is used, there is
1 I wish to thank Hannes Hansalu, for gathering some of the data, and all of the investigators who participated in this research.
2 C. Dando, R. Wilcock, R. Milne. The cognitive interview: Inexperienced police of cers’ perceptions of their witness/victim
interviewing practices. – Legal and Criminological Psychology 2008/1, pp. 59–70.
3 R.P. Fisher, R.E. Geiselman. Memory Enhancing Techniques for Investigative Interviewing: The Cognitive Interview. Spring-
eld, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas 1992.
4 R.E. Geiselman, R.P. Fisher, I. Firstenberg, L.A. Hutton, S.J. Sullivan, I.V. Avetissian, A.L. Prosk. Enhancement of eyewitness
memory: An empirical evaluation of the cognitive interview. – Journal of Police Science & Administration 1984/3, pp. 74–80.
5 R.P. Fisher, R.E. Geiselman, M. Amador. Field test of the Cognitive Interview: Enhancing the recollection of actual victims
and witnesses of crime. – Journal of Applied Psychology 1989/5, pp. 722–727; R.P. Fisher, R.E. Geiselman, D.S. Raymond,
L.M. Jurkevich, M.L. Warhaftig. Enhancing enhanced eyewitness memory: Re ning the cognitive interview. – Journal of
Police Science & Administration 1987a/4, pp. 291–297.
6 R.P. Fisher, R.E. Geiselman, D.S. Raymond. Critical analysis of police interview techniques. – Journal of Police Science &
Administration 1987b/3, pp. 177–185.
7 G. Kohnken, C. Thurer, D. Zoberbier. The cognitive interview: Are the investigators’ memories enhanced too? – Applied
Cognitive Psychology 1994/1, pp. 13–24.
8 Fisher, Geiselman (see Note 3); A. Memon, R. Bull. The cognitive interview: Its origins, empirical support, evaluation and
practical implications. – Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology 1991/4, pp. 291–307; G. Koehnken, R. Milne,
A. Memon, R. Bull. The cognitive interview: A meta-analysis. – Psychology, Crime & Law 1999/1–2, pp. 3–27.

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