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Discrepancies in autobiographical memories - Implications for the assessment of asylum seekers: repeated interviews study

Herlihy, J; Scragg, P; Turner, S; (2002) Discrepancies in autobiographical memories - Implications for the assessment of asylum seekers: repeated interviews study. BRIT MED J , 324 (7333) 324 - 327.

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Abstract

Objective To investigate the consistency of autobiographical memory of people seeking asylum, in light of the assumption that discrepancies in asylum seekers' accounts of persecution mean that they are fabricating their stories.Design Repeated interviews.Setting England, 1999 and 2000.Participants Community sample of 27 Kosovan and 12 Bosnian refugees.Main outcome measures Discrepancies in repeated descriptions of one traumatic and one non-traumatic event including specific details, rated as central or peripheral to the event. Self report measures of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.Results Discrepancies between an individual's accounts were common. For participants with high levels of post-traumatic stress, the number of discrepancies increased with length of time between interviews. More discrepancies occurred in details peripheral to the account than in details that were central to the account.Conclusion The assumption that inconsistency of recall means that accounts have poor credibility is questionable. Discrepancies are likely to occur in repeated interviews. For refugees showing symptoms of high levels of post-traumatic stress, the length of the application process may also affect the number of discrepancies. Recall of details rated by the interviewee as peripheral to the account is more likely to be inconsistent than recall of details that are central to the account. Thus, such inconsistencies should not be relied on as indicating a lack of credibility.

Type: Article
Title: Discrepancies in autobiographical memories - Implications for the assessment of asylum seekers: repeated interviews study
Keywords: POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1300349
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