Witness memory explored in public lecture

Professor Lorraine Hope.

Professor Lorraine Hope.

Successful investigations often hinge on an accurate account of events – but just how reliable is witness memory?

A Portsmouth academic will be exploring the subject next week in the University’s latest free public lecture, Memory at the Sharp End: The psychology of eliciting information.

In this inaugural lecture, Lorraine Hope, Professor of Applied Cognitive Psychology at the University, will discuss her programme of research that examined the effects of challenging environments on memory and the reliability of accounts provided by individuals in those settings.

She will also focus on her work developing new tools and techniques for eliciting reliable information in forensic contexts.

Professor Hope said: “Witness memory is a compelling, if somewhat fragile, source of information, intelligence and evidence.

“Successful investigations often hinge on accurate and detailed memory accounts provided by lay victims and witnesses and operational responders, such as police officers, military and emergency personnel.

“However, witnessed events can be dynamic, stressful and challenging and such factors often impair recall. Similarly, poor interviewing or interrogation techniques can result in memory distortion and error.”

Professor Hope’s research interests concern the performance of human cognition in applied contexts, including memory and decision-making under challenging conditions.

In particular, her work has focused on developing theoretically-informed approaches to eliciting information in policing and security contexts. Over the past 12 years, she has delivered bespoke research, innovative tools and techniques and specialised training to address the challenges of obtaining reliable and detailed accounts from memory in real-world settings.

Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, British Academy, Royal Society, Australian Research Council, the Home Office and national police forces.

She is a member of the national Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats and has published widely on both witness memory and investigative interviewing and regularly speaks at international conferences aimed at both academics and investigative practitioners.

The lecture takes place at Portland Building on Wednesday, April 27, from 6pm to 7pm. There will be a drinks reception afterwards.

The event is free, but please reserve a place on Eventbrite.

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