Conceptual priming and context reinstatement: A test of direct and indirect interview techniques.

Recent findings suggest that priming may be useful for facilitating disclosure in investigative interviews; however, the effects of priming on behavioral outcomes have been mixed. The current studies attempted to replicate the increase in information disclosure when the concept of “openness” is primed. We assessed the separate and combined influence of context reinstatement instructions and activation of the concept of openness (via lexical primes in Experiment 1, via contextual and embodiment primes in Experiment 2) on information disclosure. In doing so, we introduced a novel paradigm to investigate factors contributing to the elicitation of sensitive personal information that participants provided in written (Experiment 1) or verbal (Experiment 2) form. Participants (Experiment 1: N = 173; Experiment 2: N = 194) completed a checklist of illegal behaviors and misdeeds, then engaged in an unrelated task that was used to administer the priming manipulation (either the concept of “open” or “closed,” or a neutral prime). Participants then described a life event related to the most serious illegal behavior to which they had admitted, following either a direct request for information or a context reinstatement instruction. Across both experiments, context reinstatement led to robust increases in information disclosure. Although we failed to replicate prior effects of priming on disclosure, our observed effect sizes fell within the confidence intervals of previous studies. A meta-analytic assessment of priming across the two studies suggested a small but significant increase in information elicitation, suggesting that investigators are best served using evidence-based interviewing tactics during investigative interviews. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)