The cognitive interview method of conducting police interviews: eliciting extensive information and promoting therapeutic jurisprudence

Int J Law Psychiatry. Nov-Dec 2010;33(5-6):321-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2010.09.004. Epub 2010 Sep 26.


Police officers receive little or no training to conduct interviews with cooperative witnesses, and as a result they conduct interviews poorly, eliciting less information than is available and providing little support to assist victims overcome psychological problems that may have arisen from the crime. We analyze the components of a typical police interview that limits the amount of information witnesses communicate, and which militate against victims' overcoming psychological problems. We then describe an alternative interviewing protocol, the Cognitive Interview, which enhances witness recollection and also likely contributes to victims' well being. The component elements of the Cognitive Interview are described, with emphasis on those elements that likely promote better witness recollection and also help to assist victims' psychological health.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Cognition*
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods*
  • Law Enforcement
  • Mental Recall
  • Police*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*