What would you do as a child when you were asked a difficult question? You would close your eyes and think, right? Children often recollect difficult things by shutting their eyes. Well, it is apparently the best way to recall even minute details.
It is said that the technique improves memory by allowing you to build a detailed mental image of the thing you are trying to recall. Also, it helps you block out distractions. That is the reason you also recall auditory information by closing your eyes.
Researchers from the University of Surrey found further evidence last year to suggest that eyewitnesses to crimes remember more accurate details when they close their eyes. The team also discovered that building a rapport with witnesses also helped them to remember more.
178 participants took part across two studies. In the first experiment, participants watched a film depicting an electrician entering a property, carrying out jobs and stealing items. Each participant was then randomly assigned one of four conditions, either eyes closed or open, and having built up a rapport with the interviewer or not. They were then asked a series of questions about the film, such as ‘what was written on the front of the van?’ The team found that closing their eyes led participants to answer 23 per cent more of the questions correctly. Building rapport also increased the number of correct answers, however, closing their eyes was effective regardless of whether rapport had been built or not.
In most such experiments, participants who did not build rapport said they felt less comfortable when they closed their eyes, compared to when they kept their eyes open. In contrast, participants who built rapport felt more comfortable when they closed their eyes. “It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall,” said lead author Dr Robert Nash from the University of Surrey.
“Although closing your eyes to remember seems to work whether or not rapport has been built beforehand, our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes. That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews.”