Use and Effectiveness of Hypnosis and the Cognitive Interview for Enhancing Eyewitness Recall: Philadelphia, 1988-1989 (ICPSR 9478)

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Martin T. Orne; Wayne G. Whitehouse

Version V1

This study investigated the effectiveness of hypnosis and the cognitive interview (a technique for stimulating memory) on the recall of events in a criminal incident. The data collected in the study address the following questions: (1) Does hypnosis or the cognitive interview mitigate recall deficits that result from emotionally upsetting events? (2) Does hypnosis or the cognitive interview improve recall when individuals recall events in narrative fashion? (3) Does hypnosis or the cognitive interview improve recall when individuals are required to respond to each item in a set of focused questions? (4) Does the cognitive interview improve recall better than motivated control recall procedures? For this two-stage study, subjects were randomly assigned to receive hypnosis, cognitive interview, or control treatment. Stage 1 involved completing unrelated questionnaires and viewing a short film containing an emotionally upsetting criminal event. Stage 2 was conducted 3 to 13 days later (the average was 6.5 days) and involved baseline information gathering about the events in the film, application of the assigned treatment, and post-treatment written recall of the events. Data were collected from the written narratives provided by subjects and from an oral forced recall of events in a post-experimental interview. Variables in File 1 include total information (correct, incorrect, confabulations, and attributions) as well as new information given in the post-treatment written narrative. The remaining variables in File 1 include score on Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (HGSHS:A), repressor status, and the number of days between viewing the film and completing the baseline and post-treatment interviews. Variables in File 2 were derived from the post-experimental oral forced recall interview and include total correct and incorrect responses and confidence ratings for correct and incorrect responses. The unit of observation is the individual.

Orne, Martin T., and Whitehouse, Wayne G. Use and Effectiveness of Hypnosis and the Cognitive Interview for Enhancing Eyewitness Recall:  Philadelphia, 1988-1989. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (87-IJ-CX-0052)

1988-01 -- 1989-06

1988-01 -- 1989-06

The size of the samples used can result in moderate sampling errors. The use of a homogeneous sample of young adult volunteers makes it difficult to assess the generalizability of the findings to demographically dissimilar populations. The information contained in the data files is limited to the various measures derived from the baseline and post-treatment narratives and the post-experimental forced recall interview.

All university students in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

written narrative recollections

clinical data

experimental data



2006-03-30 File CB9478.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.