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Published: Wednesday July 19, 2017

Effective conversations - when does inconsistency matter?

Does it matter when someone seems to change their story from one conversation to another – if they’ve added some new information or contradict themselves? Lorraine Hope and Matthew Francis draw on research on memory and consistency to look at when interviewers should, and shouldn’t, worry about inconsistencies.

If someone tells you one thing, and then contradicts themselves later on, are they lying? Perhaps their whole story is fiction? This kind of detail would have Lieutenant Columbo shuffling back into the room to ask ‘just one more thing’ before highlighting an inconsistency. But work by CREST Researcher Lorraine Hope, and other colleagues in the field, suggests that there are many reasons why people might contradict themselves. Reasons that don’t necessarily signify lying or that the information is false.

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