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Chapter 1

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Psychology 2990A/B
Karen Dickson

Chapter 1-Law Eyewitness Testimony  Juries rely heavily on eyewitnesses  Mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined. Are eyewitnesses often wrong? To be an accurate witness, a person must successfully complete three stages of memory processing: 1. Acquisition the process whereby people notice a pay attention to information in the environment.  hard to see them from far away  if the eyewitness is a victim they are terribly scared and sometimes focus on the weapon not the suspects features  people are poor at noticing the unexpected lady murdered by the exterminator  it is easier to remember things that are familiar o own-race bias the finding that people are better at recognizing faces of their own race then those of other races 2. Storage the process by which people store in memory information they have acquired from the environment  Reconstructive memory the process whereby memories for an event become distorted by information encountered after the event has occurred  Information we obtain after witnessing an event can change our memory of the event  Misleading questions cause a problem with source modeling the process whereby people try to identify the source of there memories (when information is stored in memory it isn’t always well tagged to where it came from ex. blue and rust coloured car). 3. Retrieval the process by which people recall information stored in their memory  Line ups showing an eyewitness a line up of people including foils (random people) and the suspect. If they pick the suspect out of the line up, that is more reliable then showing them a picture of the suspect and them confirming it.  Problem with line ups: witnesses often chose the person in the line up who most resembles the criminal, even if the resemblance is not strong. Judging Whether Eyewitnesses are Mistaken  There is evidence that confident witnesses are more likely to be believed by police investigators, judges and jurors.  Does certainty mean accuracy a witnesses confidence is not strongly related to his or her accuracy  Signs of accurate testimony accurate witnesses tended to say that they didn’t really know how they recognized a witness the face just popped out at them compared to inaccurate witnesses who said they used a process of elimination and compared the faces to each other. It is most accurate when they make the judgments quickly  The problem with verbalization you would assume that writing down something right after you witness it would make it better but studies show that trying to put a face into words is difficult and impairs memory of that face. Judging Whether Eyewitnesses are Lying  People are poor at detecting lies, even professionals only get it right 50% of the time which is chance level  Polygraph machines: o Results are only as good as the person operating and interpreting the test (studies show that even the order of the questions can influence the results). o 10-15% is the amount of times a polygraph
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