Retrieval effort cues predict eyewitness accuracy.

Previous research has documented that correct eyewitness memories are more rapidly recalled and recognized than are incorrect ones, suggesting that retrieval ease is diagnostic of memory accuracy. Building on these findings, the current research explores whether verbal and paraverbal cues to retrieval effort could be used to determine the accuracy of honestly reported eyewitness statements about a crime event. Moreover, we examine the relative role of such effort cues and witnesses’ subjective confidence in predicting memory accuracy. The results of 2 studies demonstrate that objectively verifiable verbal and paraverbal cues to retrieval effort are strongly related to honest witnesses’ memory accuracy and that several of these cues contribute uniquely to predict accuracy. Moreover, we show that subjective confidence in a memory rests on these effort cues and that the cues mediate the confidence−accuracy relation. Given research showing that most people have vast difficulties in judging the quality of others’ memories, combined with the scarcity of research on predictors of genuinely reported memories, these initial findings suggest unexplored alternatives that may prove highly useful for improving accuracy judgments, with potentially far-reaching significance not the least in the legal context. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)