The effect of authority on eyewitness memory reports across cultures

Nkansah Anakwah, Robert Horselenberg, Lorraine Hope, Margaret Amankwah‐Poku, Peter van Koppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The culture in which individuals have been socialised can impact on both behaviour and psychological processes. Drawing on the Power Distance (PD) cultural dimension, we examined whether eyewitness reports provided by individuals from different cultural backgrounds are affected by who those reports are provided to, in this case an authority figure or a peer. We sampled participants (N = 115) from Ghana (high PD culture; n = 66) and the Netherlands (low PD culture; n = 49). In a 2 (Cultural orientation: high PD vs. low PD) X 2 (Reporting context: Police vs. Peer) design, participants viewed a mock crime event and later provided free and cued recalls. High PD culture mock witnesses reported similar amount of details when reporting to police and a peer. Low PD culture mock witnesses reported more details when reporting to police than when reporting to a peer. Overall, mock witnesses from a low PD culture provided more details than mock witnesses from a high PD culture, irrespective of reporting context. Our findings suggest that reporting to a perceived authority figure in an investigative context may affect the content of eyewitness reports as a function of cultural background.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 28 May 2024


  • Eyewitness reports
  • power distance
  • culture
  • investigative interviewing

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