Alcohol-intoxicated eyewitnesses in the field: Do high intoxication level, emotional distress and choice of investigative method affect the memory of a crime?
Eyewitness information is arguably one of the most powerful pieces of evidence during criminal investigations. Research on witness memory has been at the center of memory research for decades. The prevalence of alcohol-intoxicated witnesses and victims is very high. However, there are very few studies on alcohol and witness memory, especially at higher intoxication levels. The purpose of this project is, through quasi-experiments in the field, to examine how different intoxication levels interact with emotional distress at the crime scene, interview method and line-up procedure, and how these factors in turn affects witnesses’ event and face memory. Those factors are important to examine given that they are frequently encountered in real-life witness events, and there are no previous studies that have looked at those interactions. Participants will be recruited at real bars in Sweden and witness a mock crime. They will then be asked to identify the perpetrator in a line-up, and recall what they remember in an interview. Knowledge from this project will lead to a deepened theoretical understanding, but will also benefit the work of legal practitioners who will gain knowledge about which interview methods and line-ups that are most appropriate to use when intoxicated witnesses, who potentially have witnesses an emotionally distressing crime, are involved in the criminal investigation. This knowledge can lead to a higher resolution rate of crimes in the society.