PSY328H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Confabulation

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12 Feb 2016
Forensic Psychology
Lecture 8
Eye Witness Identification - UfT innocence project
-We rely on our schemes to make up our memories
-Confabulation is so prevalent that it is a part of every memory
-We don’t know the difference between what we made up and what is true
-Our memory isn’t nearly as good as we think it is
-We rely on conscious attention
-Only 9 departments show pictures one by one
Memory Construction
-These are just 2 cases but it shares commonalities, there wasn’t a solid ID made
-overtime, police concentrated on a particular suspect even though witnesses didn’t pick him out
-It is surprisingly easy to distort and/or create memories
-Victim is motivated with wanting to suppress what happened, beliefs are overwhelmingly
making them change their decision
-Everyone thinks they have the right person
-Jack Ramsay charged with the crime was a member of Parliament, RCP officer in
Saskatchewan - he picked her up on street, out late, brought her in station and asked her if she
was a virgin, said she was raped
-She has substance abuse problems, making her not the most credible of witnesses
-Crazy how strongly we can believe things happened when they actually didn’t
Eye Witness Identification
-classic cases
-Loftus (1979) - does research on fallibility of eye-witness testimony and how easily our
memories can be influenced, shows a video (either stop sign or yield sign)
-“Did another car pass the red Datsun while it was stopped at the stop sign?
-It was a yield sign at the intersection the subject had previously seen
-Doesn’t matter, they remember the stop sign because thats what they were asked
-It’s not that everybody got it wrong, it’s just that mostly
Loftus & Palmer (1974)
-How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?
-How fast were the cars going when they hit each other
-Seminal issue: was he speeding or not?
-By changing the adjective, I can alter the opinions of people of how fast the car was going
-In the first condition, subjects “remember” the cars going much faster than do subjects in the
second condition
-Omatopeia, sounds like how it happened in real life
False Identification
-Most common reason for convicting the innoncent, the most is eyewitness misidentification
-Most powerful piece of evidence - court doesn’t know how memory works
-Believe the person, why would they make it up?
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Eyewitness Testimony
-Loftus- Robbery/murder case
-18% conviction - low rate - when you add an eyewitness
-without the eyewitness you have 82% saying they are innocent
-One of the pieces of empirical evidence to show how powerful eyewitness is
-Most imp piece of evidence you can give
-Wells- different study replicating the same facts - both correct and incorrect eyewitnesses were
believed 80% of the time
-Jurors can’t tell the difference between someone telling the truth and someone who isn’t
-The misinformation effect/suggestibility
-MIE - (stop/yield and how fast car was going)
-Suggestibility - show a robbery and show suspect leaving building - show subjects and later
days, will be asked to answer questions about the crime they have seen and there are different
questions asked
-Free recall is the best “Tell me what you saw” open-ended questions that offer no leading
-“Did you see a knife in his hand” - people simply imagine a knife in his hand just by hearing it
-Makes a difference how you ask the question and what you say
Jurors belief of Eyewitnesses
-People who are noticing all the other details are not able to notice the face of the attacker,
people who have bad recall can remember the face the attacker
-Jurors tend to believe the people who are the best at picking who did it
-We have a limited amount of attention
-Eyewitness testimony is so important to jurors b/c they don’t understand that memory is fueled
by attention- our attention will go where it goes
-The correlation between confidence and accuracy is low, very low
-Trait exhibited by the witness that is most influencing the juror- a confident witness is one to be
believed but sometimes people act confident all the time
-Some are confident are wrong, some are not confident and right
Eye Witness Research
-Estimator variables
-Physical and temporal context (how far away was the witness, how far away could somebody
see? How much light was there available? Did I know I should be paying attention at the time?
You have no idea you should be paying attention until it’s way too late, we can only estimate
what impact it had on expert testimony
-Are children poor eyewitnesses? Is it easier to influence them? We don’t like to have child
witnesses if we can avoid it.
-Are men and women better? Doesn’t seem to be a significant difference
-Individuals who are exposed to diversity are much less likely to see this occur, if your exposed
to ethnicities all the time, much less likely an issue
-Cross-racial issue in people who have less exposure to cultures
-What emotional state was the person in?
-Memory gets worse and often can’t concentrate on face of attacker
-Were they sad at the time?
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