Truth is at hand: How gesture adds information during investigative interviews

Sara C. Broaders, Susan Goldin-Meadow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

The accuracy of information obtained in forensic interviews is critically important to credibility in the legal system. Research has shown that the way interviewers frame questions influences the accuracy of witnesses' reports. A separate body of research has shown that speakers gesture spontaneously when they talk and that these gestures can convey information not found anywhere in the speakers' words. In our study, which joins these two literatures, we interviewed children about an event that they had witnessed. Our results demonstrate that (a) interviewers' gestures serve as a source of information (and, at times, misinformation) that can lead witnesses to report incorrect details, and (b) the gestures witnesses spontaneously produce during interviews convey substantive information that is often not conveyed anywhere in their speech, and thus would not appear in written transcripts of the proceedings. These findings underscore the need to attend to, and document, gestures produced in investigative interviews, particularly interviews conducted with children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-628
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 25 2010

Keywords

  • Eyewitness memory
  • False memory
  • Gestures
  • Legal processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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