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Describe and Evaluate Research by E.Loftus into Eye Witness Testimony, the implications of the findings and the Cognitive Interview.

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Introduction

´╗┐Describe and Evaluate Research by E.Loftus into Eye Witness Testimony, the implications of the findings and the Cognitive Interview. One area of importance into memory research is Eyewitness Testimony which can have important applications to everyday life. Understanding our memory of events that occurred when a crime or incident has happened, details of who and what happened surrounding the crime or event relies on eyewitnesses and their recollection of the crime' or incident. A legal term) Eyewitness Testimony is crucial as it plays an important role in evidence used in criminal investigations and trials. However research into eyewitness testimony has shown that Eyewitness Testimony is not always accurate. One of the leading researchers in the field of Eye Witness Testimony (EWT) is Elizabeth Loftus who along with her colleagues carried out extensive research in EWT. In 1974 Loftus & Palmer conducted an experiment to investigate the accuracy of memory after witnessing a car accident, particularly to see how information provided to a witness by way of leading questions after the accident would influence their recollection of the accident. In the first experiment carried out under laboratory conditions, 45 participants divided into 5 groups were shown 7 clips of events leading up to a car accident, after each clip they were asked to answer some questions but the crucial question was "About how fast were the cars going when they ...... into each other? There were 5 conditions in the experiment, each being the independent variable (verb) used to fill the blank in the question they were smashed, collided, bumped, hit and contact with the dependent variable being the speeds estimated by the participants. The results showed that the verb used in the question influenced the participants speed estimates, with smashed getting a speed of 40.8mph, collided 39.3mph, bumped 38.1mph, hit 34mph and contacted 31.8mph. A Second Experiment was carried out whereby 150 student participants divided into 3 groups of 50 viewed a short (one minute) ...read more.

Middle

Recall from reverse order- describing the event as it would have been seen from different viewpoints, not just your own. As a result the cognitive interview leads to better memory of events and helps witnesses - recall more relevant information than compared to the traditional method. Gieselman et al (1985) tested participants using videos of simulated crime and then tested different groups using the standard police interview, under hypnosis and the cognitive interview and found the cognitive interview method extracted more information from the participants than the other two methods. Fisher et al (1990) also demonstrated the effectiveness of the cognitive interview technique in real police settings in Miami. Police detectives were trained to use cognitive interview techniques with real crime witnesses and found the cognitive interview method increased the amount of information recalled. Overall what research done into eyewitness testimony has greatly improved and as result the cognitive interview rites have helped in many cases. The cognitive interview has strong supporting research, Kohnken et al for example, reviewed research into eyewitness testimony and found that the cognitive interview increased the amount of correct information recalled by 48%, compared to the standard interview. Also, Stein & Memon (2006) found that the cognitive interview was effective because people remember more when given cues. They made Brazilian female cleaners watch a video of an abduction, and then used the cognitive interview and standard interview to gain eyewitness reports, finding those who were in the cognitive interview condition not only recalled more, but were accurate in the information recalled. More importantly the cognitive interview has helped reduce the number of incidences in the miscarriages of justice based on eye witness testimony. Research in the United States reveals that 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing is due to eyewitness misidentification, which is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. As far back as the late 1800s, experts have known that eyewitness testimony is prone to error, and that scientific study should guide reforms for identification procedures. ...read more.

Conclusion

Kocsis et al (2002) suggests that more experienced detectives are not as good at profiling perhaps because they have preconceptions about what they are looking for. With the bottom up approach British profiling treats each crime scene as individual taking the characteristics for each case and examining only those, not comparing them with others. The top down approach could lead to profilers missing important and unique evidence that is individual to that case. However the bottom up approach is time consuming and expensive to do and may mean it takes longer to identify suspects. The top down approach will narrow down the list of suspects quickly, which could lead to the crime being solved more quickly. The bottom up approach to profiling is carried out by specialist Psychologists with experience in criminal investigation. This may mean they have too many stereotypical views about suspects, which may influence their ability to profile effectively. Kocsis et al (2002) suggests that more experienced detectives are not as good at profiling perhaps because they have preconceptions about what they are looking for. Whereas the top down approach can be used by anyone as it doesn?t rely on the ability or experience of any one individual. Both the top down and bottom up profiling approaches have helped the police and on many occasions been the sole reason for a criminal?s arrest. Both methods have been shown to gain the results they set out to achieve which shows they are reliable. However both approaches assume that the criminal will show behaviour patterns and characteristics associated with that type of person such as serial killers or rapists. This is showing the offender profiling method to be completely deterministic. Furthermore Holmes (1989) showed that merely 17% of all FBI arrests were contributed by the offender profiling approach. Similarly with Holloway (1997) in England where he discovered that the profiling approach helped with 16% of cases. This still does show a significant contribution to arrests but not as much as would be thought, especially considering the money which is spent on these profiles. ...read more.

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