Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Research Shows the Power of Hand Gestures in Police Interviews

In a research thesis entitled The Misleading Potential of Communicative Hand Gestures in a Forensic Interview, Daniel Gurney conducted a series of four studies based on role plays of police interview scenarios which proved that hand gestures can exert an influence on witnesses and skew their responses when questioned.

"We found that eyewitness could be led to believe they saw something they didn’t when the interviewer performed misleading hand gestures,"  he said.  "For example, many people remembered a man having a beard when they saw the interviewer rubbing his chin."

According to Dr Gurney, this is the first study to show that eyewitnesses can be misled non-verbally and continues research into how gestures can communicate carried out by his supervisor, Professor Karen Pine.

Dr Gurney is now continuing his research and is looking at the influence of hand gestures in more severe crime scenarios, where a ‘stabbing’ gesture can cause eyewitnesses to remember a crime being more violent than it actually was.

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