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Chapter 6

PSYC 3310 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Forgetting Curve, Exclusionary Rule

Course Code
PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

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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
eyewitness’s 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 aren’t identificak
MT- witness’s 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- isn’t 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

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Improper Police Procedures:
Some cops don’t believe memory traces can be contaminated like evidence
Line up ‘foils’/fillers should be matched to suspect on basis of their physical
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 witnsess’s answers and not recording actual questions
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 aren’t 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 don’t taint eyewitness evidence through own
evidence-gathering practices

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Questioning 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 insensitive to dynamics of situation when eyewitness interviewed by cop
Witness often seeking confirmation/justificaition
Demand characteristics cues that suggest what response is expected fomw itness
o Elicit pressures to give ‘right answer’ or avoid appearing ignorant
Dangers of post-event suggestion
Leading questiobsn/subtle suggestions during witness interview more in lab studies than
real world questioning
Cops unaware that witnesss’ previous exposure to pic of suspect can increase their
likelihood [when shown the pic @ a later time] to identify the suspect as the culprit
Unconscious transference
o Ppl may remember a face but forgot wehre they saw it
Cops insensitivtite to types of errors in their own interviews
Asking same question several times during interview
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