Nov. 30, 2011 A University of Hertfordshire PhD student who graduated earlier this month conducted research which proved that hand gestures influence eyewitnesses 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.
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