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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77360 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Hypnosis in Police Investigation
Journal: Journal of the Forensic Science Society  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:3-7
Author(s): G F Wagstaff
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The use of hypnosis to facilitate the recall of witnesses has many disadvantages, according to this British critique of relevant studies, and, therefore, the comparative efficacy of 'waking' procedures should be studied.
Abstract: Claims that hypnosis may be useful in police investigations to improve the recall of witnesses and complainants are grounded in anecdotal reports rather than systematically controlled trials. For example, in a 1977 report in which 40 cases are examined involving memory details concerning description of suspects, vehicles, weapons, etc., no details are given of the kinds of hypnotic induction procedures used and the kinds of aids to memory that might have been involved. Furthermore, only 14 out of 40 witnesses showed an accurate improvement in memory in the hypnotic situation, and it could be the case that these individuals have been subject to the reminiscence effect. Other studies (e.g., a 1960 study) failed to use appropriate task-motivated 'waking' control groups.' If hypnotic induction procedures do facilitate recall in some witnesses, it is essential to establish what features of the procedures are instrumental in eliciting the extra material. If it is found, for example, that instructions for eye-closure, relaxation with imagery, and cues for recall are successful in improving recall, similar instructions should be given in the waking state to see if they are not equally or even more effective and capable of use on more subjects. Some subjects may be insusceptible to hypnosis but able to respond to 'waking' instructions. There are also problems concerning the validity of the testimony of hypnotized subjects. There are special features of the role demands of the hypnotic situation which can particularly encourage witnesses to produce inaccurate and misleading testimony. Thus, more systematic research on the ability of related 'waking' procedures is needed. Relevant studies are discussed. About 40 references are included.
Index Term(s): Behavioral science research; England; Questioning under hypnosis; Suspect interrogation
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