The intoxicated co-witness: effects of alcohol and dyadic discussion on memory conformity and event recall

Georgina Bartlett*, Julie Gawrylowicz, Daniel Frings, Ian P. Albery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Rationale: Co-witness discussion is common and often witnesses are under the influence of alcohol. As such, it is important to understand how such factors may influence eyewitness testimony. Objectives: We combined a co-witness memory paradigm with an alcohol administration paradigm to examine the influence of alcohol and dyadic discussion on remembering a mock crime. Methods: Intoxicated and sober dyads discussed a previously seen video, whilst in a control condition sober and intoxicated individuals recalled the event on their own. Unknown to the dyads, each discussion partner saw a different version of the video including unique details not present in the other video version. All participants then engaged in a second individual recall attempt. Results: Dyads were more likely to recall misleading details in their individual recall attempts compared to the control group. Intoxicated and sober dyads were equally likely to report misleading information. Alcohol intoxication had no negative impact on individuals’ ability to correctly identify the source of their responses. Intoxicated participants recalled fewer details under free recall conditions. Alcohol had a detrimental effect on participants’ confidence in their free recall accounts. Conclusions: Possible alcohol-related and social-cognitive mechanisms are discussed which may contribute to the current findings as well as applied implications for interviewing intoxicated witnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1493
Number of pages9
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume238
Issue number6
Early online date10 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

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