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Eyewitness Testimony.docx

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Richard B Day

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Eyewitness Testimony - not always as reliable as we think, but sways jury the most - DNA sequencing is more reliable than eyewitness testimony – has released more people that it has convinced The Memory System - memory = adaptation - we don’t have to remember everything – some things are useless or maladaptive (ie. First two years of life) - we don’t store info about repetitive events (useless) - we combine bits of sensory information into complete memory o we reconstruct memory to include things we wanted to happen or expected to happen even if they did not - memory doesn’t have to be 100% accurate all the time o more adaptive if its not (ie. Remembering something as not your fault) Encoding – putting events in forms we can use/store - exposure duration  shorter exposure led to lower correct identification o longer exposure = more encoding - arousal level  moderate levels of arousals are best; both high and low reduce accuracy for encoding - distraction o inattentional blindness (not noticing something you’re not paying attention to) o change blindess (not noticing changes you are not paying attention to) o increased number of perpetrators degrades memory o weapon focus – more likely to recall aspects of weapon than of the offender holding it - distinctiveness – improves recall, but “flashbulb” memories are not that accurate o Example: Challenger shuttle explosion - people asked about a scenario once, and then again many years later, will tell two different stories but not notice any discrepancy; just as confident in both reports Storage/Retrieval - our expectations determine what we see - labelling – in a study participants were shown images with a given label (ie. Sun labeled dog”; when subjects were asked to reproduce the images, they were based on the label - prejudices and biases – picture of white painter yelling at a tall black man in a suit and tie; when later asked, white people may describe the black man as the short grubby painter to match their prejudice o self serving bias – recall more positive experience  recall thing based on assumptions that may not have even happened - inferences – expectations; experiment where students were in a professors office – many recalled there being books when there were none - interpolated testing/retelling – enhanced recall quantity for material tested o easier to retrieve if you’ve been asked about it before; unrehearsed info will be forgotten - leading questions – suggestive o not allowed in trials, but can be asked in nterviews where it would already effect the testimony o example: how tall was the basketball player? = 79 inches. How short was the basketball player? = 69 inches o the wording can influence memory  Loftus – using words like frequently vs occasionally or a table vs the table  Bumped/smashed/hit/collided  the word used influenced memory of how intense the scene was  Those who were given a more intense word recalled there being glass at the scene when there was none (a week later) - misleading post-event information (PEI) o exposed to inaccurate info that they then remember as true Creating completely false memories - “lost in the mall” study – imagining false events increases beliefs in them Verbal description of offenders - Demonstrations show that ability to identify offender is varied (in a group that all witnessed the same event) Kuehn (1974) – average 7.2 descriptors - The best descriptors (ie. Face descriptions) are the least ones provided - Most often mentioned are gender, age, height, build, race, weight, complexion, hair colour – mentioned 70% of the time - (clothing absent from list) Sporer (1992) – 9.71 descriptors - 31% of descriptors related to clothes - but not useful because its easily changed - face descriptors included upper half, especially hair – also not useful; shape of face would be more helpful Lindsay (1994) – examined descriptions of real criminals and compared their completeness with descriptions contained in lab studies - Mock Crime Witnesses – most likely to report clothing, hair color, and height, fewer than 50% report obvious characteristics (sex/age/race) o More details than real witnesses - Real Crime Witnesses – most likely to report gender, hair colour, clothing, race/ethnicity. Facial features fewer than 10% Van Koppen & Lochun (1997) – provided 24 permanent aspects of offender and 19 temporary aspects - of maximum 43 descriptors, witness provides mean of 8 - permament features mentioned more often - fewer than 5% refer to inner facial features (and most of it was wrong) - majority of temporary descriptions were clothing (hats, jackets, and colours) Yuille & Cutshall (1986) – examined 21 witnesses to single shooting; follow up interview 5 months later - reported accounts to be elaborate and accurate - action details, person descriptions, object descriptions - everything was very accurate EXCEPT facial hair Estimates of height and weight are not highly correlated with actual
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