Closing your eyes boosts memory recall, says study

Rapport with interviewer also helped eyewitnesses to crimes recall details better

Published: Saturday 17 January 2015

Deeped Niclas & Amanda Strandh/Flickr

Researchers from University of Surrey in the UK have found that eyewitnesses to crimes remember more accurate details when they close their eyes. The team also discovered that building a rapport with witnesses helped them to remember more.

In the first experiment, participants watched a film depicting an electrician entering a property, carrying out jobs and stealing items. Each participant was then randomly assigned one of four conditions: eyes closed; eyes open; having a rapport with the interviewer; not having rapport with interviewer.  They were then asked a series of questions about the film, such as “what was written on the front of the van”. The team found that closing their eyes led participants to answer 23 per cent more of the questions correctly. Similarly, building rapport also increased the number of correct answers. Closing their eyes was effective regardless of whether rapport had been built or not.

“It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall,” said lead author Robert Nash from the University of Surrey, in a press release published by the university.

“Although closing your eyes to remember seems to work whether or not rapport has been built beforehand, our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes. That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews.”


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