Geiselman and Fisher developed the basic technique of cognitive interview (CI) and newer dimensions are being added to it continuously. The CI is based on social dynamics, context building, and imagery. It uses the open-ended questions, unlike the close-ended questions of structured or standard interviewing (SI) seek information from a witness.
The witness of a crime event is not able to recall the incident, as there is nothing like a photograph in human mind. A cooperative witness also finds it difficult since there is limitations of memory and perception. These problems are aggravated when information in not sought in proper way (Taylor 161). She refers to Geiselman and Fisher generally for their well-researched technique of CI. The principle of latter's research is that the memory has many fragments and that the retrieval system should have similar elements. Brown and Geiselman (14) had further elaborated the theory of Geiselman and Fisher by adding recall of events in different orders and perspectives.
The correct and more memory recall, as mentioned above, is facilitated by social rapport between interviewer and the witness. The witness is given a feeling that everything he/she says is important. Taylor (161-162) shows agreement with these pioneers in that after the rapport with the witness , the interviewer should ask open ended questions and let the witness elaborate crime related information. Periods of long silences be allowed as the witness's mind goes back to crime scene and bring out finer details. CI researchers caution interviewer to value non verbal evidences such as drawing etc.. Taylor (162) proceeds to techniques of memory and cognition after the social dynamics. She finds that both the CI pioneers have emphasized on context restoration. The witness simulates the context complete with environment, lighting, feelings, emotions, physiological condition and perception into the mind of witness through their open-ended approach. The context building reportedly yields as much recall as the whole CI
It is to be noted here that the social angle is not only the initial phase of interrogation ,it remains there always and if circumstances arouse or distress a witness , he/she/ should be allowed time out till feels safe and is in control (Memon and Hingham par. 3). A discussion of the work of CI researcher is presented in the light of these elements of the technique.
The methodology in the experiments to assess efficiency of CI uses students, children and other person by showing them a video clip or magic show and then using CI to find out the amount and accuracy of recall and other observations.
One useful experiment on comparative study of two major techniques, CI and SI, of witness examination was certainly an appropriate dimension to look for. Hence Memon et al ( 1997 b:642-651) conducted their study with 64 adolescents of between the age of 16 and 19 years. Their findings revealed that, contrary to expectation, there was no significant difference between CI and SI condition for errors and confabulations which were (Fisher PLSD= 7.19, p=.07 and (p>.05) for CI and SI respectively. The accuracy rates were also same (84%) for both CI and SI. The similar results of SI and CI here are influenced by identical components of both the interviews including the rapport building and facilitating communication. The CI differed with SI in having unique components of the techni