Who? What? When? Using a timeline technique to facilitate recall of a complex event

Lorraine Hope, R. Mullis, F. Gabbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurately recalling a complex multi-actor incident presents witnesses with a cognitively demanding retrieval task. Given the important role played by temporal context in the retrieval process, the current research tests an innovative timeline technique to elicit information about multiple perpetrators and their actions. Adopting a standard mock witness paradigm, participants were required to provide an account of a witnessed event. In Experiment 1, the timeline technique facilitated the reporting of more correct details than a free recall, immediately and at a two-week retention interval, at no cost to accuracy. Accounts provided using the timeline technique included more correct information about perpetrator specific actions and fewer sequencing errors. Experiment 2 examined which mnemonic components of the timeline technique might account for these effects. The benefits of exploiting memory organization and reducing cognitive constraints on information flow are likely to underpin the apparent timeline advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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