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To know where the bodies are buried: the use of the cognitive interview in an environmental scale spatial memory retrieval task

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Missing body homicide cases have gained public interest globally due to some high-profile cases. In many of these cases, the task of locating the victim’s remains relies on the information investigators can gain through the interviewing of willing suspects. To date investigative interviewing research has largely focussed on the retrieval of episodic memory (events) without focussing on spatial memory; a prominent cognitive task required in locating a victim’s remains. The current experiment tests the enhanced cognitive interview (ECI) against a free recall strategy in a mock homicide scenario where participants are required to hide and retrieve an object in a natural bushland setting. The results showed that those in the ECI condition produced more coarse- and fine-grained details of landmarks and their actions at, and journeying to the deposition site. This demonstrates the value of using the ECI in generating more valuable information to assist in successive search attempts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Early online date25 Jan 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 25 Jan 2020


  • To know where the bodies are buried - Post Print

    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ryan, N, Westera, N, Kebbell, M, Milne, R, Harrison, M. To know where the bodies are buried: The use of the cognitive interview in an environmental scale spatial memory retrieval task. Appl Cognit Psychol. 2020; 1– 12, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 502 KB, PDF document

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