The Effect of Refreshed Testimony on Eyewitness Memory and Cross-Examination Accuracu

Francesca Ainsworth

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

1287 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis presents a series of studies investigating refreshed testimony, the process of refreshing a witness’ memory with a copy of their original evidence. Study 1 explored the real world application of refreshed testimony by police officers in England. Data gathered through an online questionnaire revealed that refreshed testimony practices are inconsistent both within and between police forces. Examples of poor practice highlight the need for reform and the introduction of guidance is recommended. Three experimental studies investigated the potential for refreshed testimony to improve recall accuracy and cross-examination performance in both young and adult witnesses. Studies 2 (11-12 year old sample) and 3 (undergraduate sample) used video-recorded interviews to refresh memory and compare performance to non-refreshed controls. Counter to previous research, no effect of refreshed testimony was found in either study. Study 4 considered whether the medium of evidence used for refreshing (video interview, interview transcript, written statement) determines the effectiveness of refreshed testimony. No effect of refreshed testimony was found on memory in this study, regardless of the medium of evidence used. Across all three experimental studies, non-refreshed controls performed equally to refreshed participants in free recall and cross-examination. Although memory recall and cross-examination were not improved, no negative effects on memory were observed. Studies 2, 3 and 4 also examined the effect of question type on response accuracy in cross-examination interviews. All three reported that open questions produced more accurate responses than both closed and forced-choice questions, as predicted by best practice interviewing guidelines. Three main conclusions are drawn in this thesis. One, refreshed testimony practices in England are not standardised. Two, refreshed testimony has no measurable effect on recall accuracy and cross-examination performance under optimal recall conditions. Three, best practice interview questions produce the most accurate responses in a cross-examination context.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Memon, Amina, Supervisor
Award date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • eyewitness memory
  • refreshed testimony
  • cross-examination

Cite this