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PSYC 3310 (60)
Chapter 6

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York University
PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

Chapter 6 Improving Eyewitness Identification and Interviewing Procedures Gathering Useful Information from Eyewitnesses: A cops goal is to solve/clear crimes o More likely successful if at least 1 eyewitness Fear of crime widespread cuz clearance rate for major crimes is quite low Major factor in determining whether case will be solved was completeness/accuracy of eyewitnesss account Crimes most likely cleared are those when offender captured w/in mintures or eyewitness provided specific relevant piece of info Presence of eye witness who incriminates defendant is usually most infleuintical evidence [along with presence of confesion] In review of cases where defendents wrongfully convicted, 52% included faulty eyewitness testimony o Eyewitness errors provide single most frequent cause of wrongful conviction Act of witness identifying/describing suspect involves more than just memory o Reasoning processes, suggestibility, social ifnleunce, self-foncidence, conformity Memory testimony and memory arent identificak MT- witnesss statement of what recalls of a prior event, tehse statements can be influenced by more than just memory process Degree of accuracy of eyewitness identification partially determined by specific procedures used in the criminal investigation System Variables versus Estimator Variables: SV- procedure used by cops/members of criminal justice sys o Type of questioning done by cops, presence/absence of videotaping procedures When SV contribute to eyewitness inaccuracy, they are preventable errors EV- isnt controllable by criminal justice sys o Environ factors eg lighting @ crime scence o Within person variables eg witness psych state EV are determined before the cops respond Presence of weapon/degree of violence affects ability ot recall event o More likely remember nonviolent But some naturalistic research suggest witnesses to violence can hold accurate memories for the event Improper Police Procedures: Some cops dont believe memory traces can be contaminated like evidence Line up foils/fillers should be matched to suspect on basis of their physical characteristics Variations from acceptable procedures in questioning eyewitnesses include o Asking witnesses poorly constructed questions immediautly upon discovering the crime o Allowing 1 EW to ovear the reaponses of another EW o Taking spotty notes of witnsesss answers and not recording actual questions asked o Failng to use any theory of a proper memory interview o Using investigators with little training in interwving/the psych of memory Cops face temptation of acting prematurely in forming conclusion about the likely perp o Guides towards questions/procedures that validate the belief May construct biased lineups/photo arrays to aid in identifying whom they consider the correct suspect The Thomas Sophonow Case: 3 problems with cop evidence gathering procedures with Doerksen o Use hypnosis to refresh his memory for the per o Use of foils who differed on imp physical attribute from the main suspect o Leading witness to choose particular person in line up as perp The John Demjanjuk Case: Survivors of nazi camps identified him after examining his 1951 visa photoe o Identificatiosn reflect assumption of accurate memories of interactions that occurred 30+ years before Foils persons who arent suspects in the crime @ hand Under right circumstances, traumatic memory can be accurate over long periods of time Onus is on investigators to make sure they dont taint eyewitness evidence through own evidence-gathering practicesQuestioning Witnesses (information generation): 2 types of eyewitnesses: victim/bystander o Soemtiems recall evidence quite differently Lack of Training: Little instruction on how to interview cooperative witnesses Interview Content: After intro, interviewer asks witndess to describe [via narrative] what happene din crime Then ask brief direct questions that elicit equally brief responses Other than ending interview with broad request for additional info, interviewer gives little/no assistance ot enhance witnesses recollection 3 types of errors that occur almost universally o Interrupting witness o Asking to many short-answered questions o Inappropriate sequencing of questions Failure to Recognize the Dynamics of the Interview: Cops insensit
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