PSYC 2400 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Cognitive Interview, Recognition Memory, Long-Term Memory

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25 Aug 2016
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PSYC 2400 R
Notes by Adelina McCall
Email: addiemccall@cmail.carleton.ca
Unit #5: Eyewitness Testimony
SECTION #1
Memory and Eyewitness Research
Memory
Perception (how information is perceived from environment – what is seen and heard)  encode  short
term memory (must be rehearsed so it stays in memory)  long term memory  retrieval
- Sometimes information doesn’t get encoded properly and incorrect information or lack of
information is encoded to short term memory
- Memory is not like a video recorder – many things are lost in the process and memory is fragile
Types of Memory
2 types of memory retrieval:
- Recall memory: reporting what they observed from memory
- Recognition memory: recognizing something and comparing it to what they have seen before
(e.g. looking at line up and identifying the suspect they remember seeing)
Eyewitness Research
Different research methods:
1) Archival data
2) Naturalistic environments
3) Laboratory simulation (most common) – allows for control of variables, participants view critical
event and at a later time are asked about what they observed (example)
Independent Variables
2 types of independent variables:
- Estimator variables: cannot be changed from what is already existing (e.g. age, height)
- System variables: variables that can vary or be manipulated depending on type of procedure
under control of justice system in police interviews
- Both variables can be manipulated in a lab setting however b/c estimator variables cannot be
changed in real life they should not be altered in the lab b/c this is not realistic and limits how
the study can be applied to real world
Dependent Variables
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PSYC 2400 R
Notes by Adelina McCall
Email: addiemccall@cmail.carleton.ca
Unit #5: Eyewitness Testimony
3 types of dependent variables:
- Recall of event
- Recall of culprit
- Recognition of culprit (in a line up or through voice identification for example)
Recall of the Event
2 forms of recall:
1) Open ended – recall information without help or being asked questions – just tell what they
know
2) Direct questions – asked specific questions by investigator (e.g. what colour color? How tall?)
- Both types of recall are often used however open ended is usually followed by direct questions
Examining Recall Information
- Amount of information?
- Type of information? – how many control details vs peripheral details
- Accuracy of information? – is the information provided true (accurate)
Recognition Information
- Typically, a police line up is used for recognition (most common) – asked to identify culprit from
lineup of people
- Can also use photos or voice sample to match to suspect
- Accuracy: did they choose right person?
- Types of errors (2 types typically made); innocent person was chosen? Culprit appeared in line
up but was not identified by witness
SECTION #2
Recall Procedures
Police Questioning
Sometimes are limited in their ability to collect information (4 reasons)
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PSYC 2400 R
Notes by Adelina McCall
Email: addiemccall@cmail.carleton.ca
Unit #5: Eyewitness Testimony
- They interrupt witnesses during free recall and their causes the witness to have more difficulty
recalling the events
- They ask short, specific questions which result in short responses which don’t provide a lot of
information – if not asked than the witness won’t release that information
- Asked off-topic questions – random questions not pertaining to what the witness is talking
about (e.g. talking about the culprit’s voice but then investigator randomly asks about the
clothes)
- Asked leading questions – suggestive and bias to what they want to hear
- Do not follow good practices in terms of these attributes
Wording of Questions
- “smashed” vs “hit”/ “contacted” – showed greater response to more emotional word
“smashed”
- Those who were told the car smashed assumed it was going faster than the car that made
contact
- Wording can strongly influence recall – change what they saw based on strong/emotional
wording
- Affects future recall – asked if there was broken glass a week later (delay) and those who
remember hearing smashed were more likely to say there was broken glass
Misinformation Effect
- Witness is provided with incorrect information which they later incorporate into their own recall
in future interviews – inaccurate events become apart of their memory and their original
memory is replaced by this information
- Implications: false information or added information provided after event can influence memory
– it is important for police not to introduce any new information without getting statement from
witness first
- Remember wording of questions and tone can change/bias the witness’ end statement possibly
providing wrong information
- “post event information effect”
- E.g. suspect was wearing vest during the time of the crime but the officer asks about the jacket
the culprit was wearing – changing the outcome of the witness’ statement
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