PSY328H5 Lecture 3: Lecture 3.docx

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5 May 2015
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Lecture 3:
Troy Davis
- Case example from the Innocent Project
- Killing of a white police officer happened in the 1980’s
oTroy Davis is a black man
- Almost every eyewitness was pressured to make a statement or identify a suspect
- 9 eye witnesses
o7 excluded
o1 was the other suspect
- Troy Davis spent 22 years on death row
- Troy Davis was not pardoned and was put to death
- Eyewitness testimony is the #1 reason innocent people go to prison
- People feel that if a case is solved (if justice is served) then they will be safe
oThis forces eyewitnesses to choose
oOnce people make a choice they feel more confident about it
Remember: confidence doesn’t equal accuracy!
Eyewitness Evidence
1. Estimator Variables
2. Perception
3. System Variables
Assumptions
- There are common assumptions that are made;
oIf it’s a witness theyre telling the truth
oIf it’s a suspect, they’re lying
- Problems
oThe interviewer is biased – they will ask different questions depending on
if they think the person is telling the truth or lying
oConfirmation bias – you will listen or focus on all evidence that proves
your point or preconceived ideas and ignore information that doesn’t
oWitnesses may be telling the truth but it may be false information/ false
memory
oSuspect may be telling the truth (could be an incorrect assumption)
Standard Interview
- Ask witnesses to describe, in their own words, what happened
- Who, what, where, when, and why
- No standardization
Police Interviews
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- McLean (1995) Study
- Tape recordings vs. written interviews
- Findings:
o50% of questions were leading
Many questions were closed ended
This may introduce ideas into witnesses memory because it is
coming from a
o50-50 talking time between officer and witness
Police may be talking too much when witness is trying to tell their
story
Should be closer to 20:80 (more witness talking)
oObstructive style
Too many breaks in witnesses story
Individual may be encouraged to think differently
oWritten reports highly edited
Missing facts not included in 14 cases
In 4 of the 16 cases, they recorded facts that were the opposite;
facts that contradicted what the witness actually said
oAll 16 were signed as true by the witness
- How can we improve interviews?
- Memory enhancement procedures
o2 types: Cognitive & Cognitive Enhanced
Cognitive Interview
- Based on principles of memory storage and retrieval
- Depends on cooperation of witness
- Employs 4 retrieval mnemonics
Cognitive Interview (Enhanced)
1. Rapport building
- Ask them a couple questions about themselves
- Offer tea or coffee
- Tell them about yourself
2. Guided imagery
- Try to re-instate what happened
oTry to mental recreate the scene or event
- Where we you standing? Where was the suspect standing? How did you feel?
What were you thinking?
- They’ll give a lot more thought to their answer
- When you encode memory it is encoded in a specific way
oWhen you retrieve it and you target memory cues they will remember
better
oSet them up for perfect memory
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3. Temporal order
- If a lot of time has passed then the person may have already told the story to
others and embellished some parts
- Change the order of the story to tease things out
oAsk the person to start from the most important event rather than from the
beginning
4. Report any related matter
5. Recall using different perspectives *
- Ask the witness what they think someone else saw/ could have seen
oEx. I couldn’t see what was in the persons left hand but the person
standing by the chair might have
- Problem: has the potential to cause the eyewitness to believe incorrect details
Cognitive Interview (Enhanced)
1. Should be 20-30/70-80 talking times between interviewer and witness
- Let the eyewitness do more of the talking
2. Flexible
3. No interruptions
- Don’t want to break their train of thought
4. Use open-ended questions
- Empirical evidence shows 35% more information eyewitnesses remember
- Amount of error is about the same as standard interview
oError isn’t reduced but more information is obtained which is a good thing
Line Ups
- Procedure used to identify suspects by an eyewitness
- Potential for false identification
4 Suggestions to Improve Lineups
- How are they useful?
- What might happen if not used?
Double Blind Procedure
- Can advertantly or inadvertently cue the witness
- Ex. “Take your time” – to tentative description
- Subtle unconscious cues (coughing, voice inflection)
- Confirmation bias
- Reinforcement can raise witness confidence levels (witness confidence trumps
accuracy)
Instructions to the Witness
- “The person you saw commit the crime may or may not be in the photos you are
about to see”
- Present the photos sequentially (Lindsay and Wells 1985)
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