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‘So long as you explore the relevant issues and areas, it does not matter how witnesses are asked questions.’ Critically consider this statement in the light of eyewitness testimony research.

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Introduction

'So long as you explore the relevant issues and areas, it does not matter how witnesses are asked questions.' Critically consider this statement in the light of eye witness testimony research. The way an eye witness is asked a question, can seriously affect the reliability of the evidence he/she gives. This is due to the reconstructive nature of memory which was investigated by Bartlett in 1932 using 'War of the Ghosts'. Bartlett believed that memory cannot be replayed like a videotape and therefore suggested that the process of remembering things is an active reconstruction which is affected by schemas. A schema is an organised packet of information stored in long term memory which develops over a lifetime, giving meaning to events, telling you how to behave and what to expect. ...read more.

Middle

Phrases were changed for example 'canoes' to 'boats', unfamiliar names were not recalled and details which were remembered were elaborated upon. From Bartlett's results in this study we cannot assume that memory is like a videotape as recall is not always perfect because it is constantly being influenced by schemas and being reconstructed. The use of different types of language in questioning procedures can therefore influence an eyewitness's schema causing it to change and make the witness believe they have seen something that they have not seen, resulting in an inaccurate eye witness testimony. Schemas can therefore be used to explain how memory can be influenced at encoding and recall, possibly leading to an inaccurate eye witness testimony. ...read more.

Conclusion

These results from Loftus and Palmer (1974) show us that leading questions affect post event information (eye witness testimonies) causing them to change and make the gained information inaccurate, which could lead to an injustice. This research is therefore shows us that the way a witness is questioned is very important as to the accuracy of his or her eye witness testimony. As the language used during questioning, whether leading or misleading, can cause a person's schema and memory of an incident to change and incorporate details which they did not actually see, resulting in an inaccurate eye witness testimony which consequently is of no use in a court case or any other legal proceeding. ...read more.

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