Urgent issues and prospects at the intersection of culture, memory, and witness interviews: exploring the challenges for research and practice

Lorraine Hope*, Nkansah Anakwah, Jan Antfolk, Sonja P. Brubacher, Heather Flowe, Fiona Gabbert, Ellen Giebels, Wangu Kanja, Julia Korkman, Akira Kyo, Makiko Naka, Henry Otgaar, Martine B. Powell, Hedayat Selim, Jenny Skrifvars, Isaac Kwasi Sorkpah, Emmanuel A. Sowatey, Linda C. Steele, Laura Stevens, Nathanael E.J. SumampouwPaul J. Taylor, Javier Trevino-Rangel, Tanja van Veldhuizen, Jianqin Wang, Simon Wells, Anonymous

*Corresponding author for this work

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The pursuit of justice increasingly relies on productive interactions between witnesses and investigators from diverse cultural backgrounds during investigative interviews. To date, the role of cultural context has largely been ignored by researchers in the field of investigative interviewing, despite repeated requests from practitioners and policymakers for evidence-based guidance for the conduct of interviews with people from different cultures. Through examining cultural differences in human memory and communication and considering specific contextual challenges for investigative interviewing through the lens of culture, this review and associated commentaries highlight the scope for considering culture and human diversity in research on, and the practice of, investigative interviewing with victims, witnesses, and other sources. Across 11 commentaries, contributors highlight the importance of considering the role of culture in different investigative interviewing practices (e.g., rapport building, questioning techniques) and contexts (e.g., gender-based violence, asylum seeking, child abuse), address common areas of cultural mismatch between interviewer–interviewee expectations, and identify critical future routes for research. We call for an increased focus in the investigative interviewing literature on the nature and needs of our global community and encourage constructive and collaborative discussion between researchers and practitioners from around the world to better identify specific challenges and work together towards evidence-based solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
LH and PT’s work in writing this article was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (ESRC Award: ES/N009614/1), which is funded in part by the UK Home Office and security and intelligence agencies (see the public grant decision here: https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=ES%2FV002775%2F1 ). The funding arrangements required this paper to be reviewed to ensure that its contents did not violate the Official Secrets Act nor disclose sensitive, classified, and/or personal information. Commentary 9: The writing of this article was also supported by funding awarded to Henry Otgaar (C1 Grant KU Leuven and FWO Research Project).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Legal and Criminological Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society


  • child interviewing
  • cross-cultural communication
  • culture
  • eyewitness memory
  • investigative interviewing
  • memory
  • rapport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Applied Psychology


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