Closing your eyes really can help jog the memory, a new study finds.
The results should be useful for helping eyewitnesses to crimes remember more details when questioned by police.
The study, published in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology, had participants watching an electrician entering a property, doing some work and stealing various items (Nash et al., in press).
Afterwards, some were asked questions with their eyes open and others with their eyes closed.
The psychologists were also interested to see if building rapport before asking the questions made any difference.
The results revealed that closing the eyes gave the biggest boost to recall, but establishing some rapport before questioning was also beneficial.
People who had their eyes open and did not have some rapport with questioner only got 41% of the questions right.
People with their eyes closed and who had some rapport got 75% of the questions right.
Dr Robert Nash, who led the study, said:
“It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall.
Although closing your eyes to remember seems to work whether or not rapport has been built beforehand, our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes.
That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews.”
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