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Five experiments tested the idea that instructing a witness to close their eyes during retrieval might increase retrieval success. In Experiment 1 participants watched a video, before a cued-recall test for which they were either instructed to close their eyes, or received no-instructions. Eye-closure led to an increase in correct cued-recall, with no increase in incorrect responses. Experiments 2–5 sought to test the generality of this effect over variations in study material (video or live interaction), test format (cued- or free-recall) and information modality (visual or auditory details recalled). Overall, eye-closure increased recall of both visual detail and auditory details, with no accompanying increase in recall of false details. Collectively, these data convincingly demonstrate the benefits of eye-closure as an aid to retrieval, and offer insight into why hypnosis, which usually involves eye-closure, may facilitate eyewitness recall.

Source: “How Can We Help Witnesses to Remember More? It’s an (Eyes) Open and Shut Case” from Law and Human Behavior, Volume 32, Number 4, 314-324

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