Producing facial composite sketches in remote cognitive interviews: a preliminary investigation

Heidi J. Kuivaniemi-Smith, Robert A. Nash, Eleanor R. Brodie, Gregory Mahoney, Christopher Rynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Justice systems around the world are increasingly turning to videoconferencing as a means to reduce delays and reduce costs in legal processes. This preliminary research examined whether interviewing a witness remotely - without physical co-presence of the witness and interviewer - could facilitate the production of quality facial composite sketches of suspects. In Study 1, 42 adults briefly viewed a photograph of a face. The next day they participated in Cognitive Interviews with a forensic artist, conducted either face-to-face or remotely via videoconference. In Study 2, 20 adults participated in videoconferenced interviews, and we manipulated the method by which they viewed the developing sketch. In both studies, independent groups of volunteers rated the likeness of the composites to the original photographs. The data suggest that remote interviews elicited effective composites; however, in Study 1 these composites were considered poorer matches to the photographs than were those produced in face-to-face interviews. The differences were small, but significant. Participants perceived several disadvantages to remote interviewing, but also several advantages including less pressure and better concentration. The results of Study 2 suggested that different sketch presentation methods offered different benefits. We propose that remote interviewing could be a useful tool for investigators in certain circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-406
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number4
Early online date7 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Psychology, Crime & Law on 7/5/13, available online:


  • cognitive Interviewing
  • eyewitness memory
  • face composite
  • sketch artist
  • video-mediated communication


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