Getting Descriptions of People: Ten Tips
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calm the person if he or she is upset or tense. People’s memories
generally improve when they are relaxed
the person you are interviewing to give a general description. They
are will probably give you some general information and then get
stuck. You should then prompt their memory by asking specific
about the subject’s sex, race, age, height, weight, if they have not
already given you accurate information about these.
the person struggles to give an accurate answer about the subject’s
height, ask them how high the subject was in relation to other work
colleagues. For example: “Was he shorter or taller than Bob?” and
“How much shorter or taller than Mary do you think he was?” You
can do the same thing with the person’s weight.
the subject was standing in a particular place you can ask how tall he
or she was in relation to the object. For example “Where on the
bookcase did his or her head reach?” When you get information about
heights in this way remember to take account of the angle from which
the person was watching, which may have distorted the perception of
helps a person remember a face more accurately if you ask about the
components of the face. So ask about the eyes, any glasses, what
complexion, anything about the mouth or nose, any piercings, possible
makeup, beard, moustache, sideburns, etc.
just ask about the colour of the hair. Also ask how long it was,
whether it appeared to be dyed, whether it was all one colour, what
style it was, whether it appeared to be a wig, etc.
what clothing the subject was wearing, then go through it item by
Ask if the subject had any distinguishing physical features, including
did he or she limp or have a unique gait.
what the subject was carrying, if anything. If the subject had a
weapon ask for details, for example was the handle a different
material or colour, was it a revolver or a pistol, and explain how
they look differently, etc. If the person has difficulty remembering
the size of the weapon ask him or her to relate it to the something
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