Type: Critical Essays
Sample donated: Roosevelt Sharp
Last updated: September 26, 2019
Outline what literature has told us about false memories and the reliability of eye-witness testimony.
Eye-witness testimony is a legal term used when a witness or witnesses attend court to identify someone who has committed a crime. False memory is when a person recollects an information which has not occurred in the past.Eye-witness testimony (EWT) comes in three different stages: encoding the details into long term memory, retaining the information for a period of time (during retention sometimes memories could be modified or lost). The third stage is when the witness retrieves the information from storage this is likely to be affected from reconstruction of the memory.
Although most psychologists do not find eye-witness testimony reliable and a valid form of evidence the criminal justice system strongly takes eye-witness testimonies into account when making a decision. Wells and Olsen (2003), suggest that males and females may take an interest in different aspects of a scene however, overall abilities of both genders in eye-witness testimony seems to be largely vague.Loftus and Palmer (1974) designed a study to see whether or not leading questions distorts the truthfulness of an Eye-witness testimony immediate recall of an event. There were 45 participants who were given seven films of different traffic incidents. Later on the participants were given a critical question. One group was asked “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?” The other five groups were asked the same question however instead of the word hit they used the verbs smashed, collided, bumped and contacted (are these words directly from the study if so put them in quotation marks ). The mean speed was calculated for each group , the group that was given the word ‘smashed’ estimated roughly 41mph whereas the group that was given the word ‘contacted’ estimated the lowest speed which was 30mph. Loftus claims that eye-witness testimony was generally inaccurate and unreliable.
In many different studies Loftus has argued that misleading information such as broken glass being at the scene of the incident integrates the original information and then the eye- witness starts to believe that there was really glass at the scene and makes false memories of the event and starts to believe that it is a more serious accident. Very good sentence but too long., make it into more than just one long sentence, maked it a few sentences.Yuille and Cutshall (1986) conducted a study where there was 13 (when typing numbers for example when youre talking about the amount of people always type it out in words like ‘thirteen’)people who witnessed an armed robbery in Canada the people were interviewed shortly after. The second interviews took place four to five months after the crime and also included two misleading questions. The witnesses still gave accurate information just like they did at the first interview.
This study exemplifies that misleading questions do not have an effect on serious real life events like they do with laboratory experiments (e.g. Loftus & Palmer). The study also shows that there are actually (don’t use the word actually , I used it and the teacher said its slang )cases where incidents happen and witnesses are still giving accurate information after many months. Foster et al. (1994) found that laboratory experiments such as those conducted by Loftus may not represent real life as they are likely not to emotionally arouse (rephrase this .
. they are not likely to be emotionally arouse??) like they would have in the real incident.Outline what literature has told us about false memories and the reliability of eye-witness testimony.