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Eyewitness Testimony

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Discuss the extent to which memory research has provided us with insights into the accuracy of eyewitness testimony Research into memory has suggested that memory is not very accurate and perhaps should not be relied on wholly when giving an eyewitness statement. One important factor when looking into eyewitness testimony is the ability to be able to distort or reconstruct memories. Bartlett carried out research into the concept of reconstructive memory and introduced the idea of schemas. According to Bartlett, schemas are the way in which we store our memory due to past knowledge and experience and can influence us when we recall a memory. Schemas are a pre event factor. ...read more.


Loftus carried out two studies into the roles of leading questions and what effect they have on p's. In the first study, Loftus showed p's a film of a car accident. A group of nine p's were then asked 'How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?' An equal number of the remaining p's were asked the same question but the verb 'hit' was replaced with either 'smashed', 'collided', 'bumped' or 'contacted'. It was found that the verb used effected the speed estimation. In a similar study, film footage of a car accident was shown to a group of p's who were then asked 'Did you see a broken headlight?' ...read more.


Loftus discovered that emotional factors can also have a role in an eyewitness's accuracy. She carried out a study aiming to discover whether anxiety would have an effect on p's accuracy of identification of a face. She carried out the study under two conditions. The first condition contained no weapon and the p's overheard a low key discussion whereas the second condition involved the p's hearing a heated row and a man appearing from the lab covered in blood with a paperknife in his hand. The findings were that in condition two the man was only accurately identified 33% of the time compared to 49% in condition one. This may have been due to the idea of weapon focus. This study suggests that eyewitnesses may give an inaccurate identification if they were not focusing properly on the victim/offender. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sammie Pinker ...read more.

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