Culture, trauma and memory in investigative interviews

Police and immigration officials often interview individuals from different cultures about potentially traumatising events. In a collaboration between ALLP and the Centre for the Study of Emotion & Law, Annelies Vredeveldt, Zoe Given-Wilson and Amina Memon published a new article on how trauma, culture and memory may interact, as part of the ERC project on eyewitness memory in cross-cultural contexts.

They review how negative life events may be experienced and expressed differently around the world. For example, in many cultures, people report physical rather than psychological pain, such as dizziness and neck pain in Cambodian refugees. The authors also consider how culture and negative life events may interact to influence memory reporting and communication in investigative interviews. For instance, differences in cultural norms may result in sexual abuse survivors not feeling comfortable or even having the words to describe what happened to them in the amount of detail required by investigators. Finally, the authors provide suggestions on how findings on culture, trauma, and memory can be incorporated into the recently adopted Méndez Principles for investigative interviewing.

The article is published open access and can be read here.