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Eyewitness Testimony

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Introduction

Corall Ogugua. Seminar essay 3 - Eyewitness Testimony Elizabeth Loftus has conducted many studies on eyewitness testimony (EWT). In 1974 she worked with John Palmer to look at the ways that memory can be distorted. The studies general aim was to explore the accuracy of memory after witnessing a car accident. In particular it was to find out if leading questions distort the accuracy of eyewitness's immediate recall. It also aimed to see if it was true that people were open to hints, as people are extremely bad at estimating the speed of moving cars. 45 students were shown 7films of different traffic accidents. After each film, participants were given a questionnaire asking them to describe the accident and then answer a sequence of specific questions about it. The questionnaire contained one critical question 'about how fast were the cars going when they hit each other'. This was given to 1 group of participants. The other 4 groups were given different verbs to replace the word 'hit'. Loftus and Palmer found that the group given the verb 'smashed' estimated a higher speed than the other groups. ...read more.

Middle

demonstrators a male?'. one week later participants were asked several questions including one about the number of demonstrators. Those who had been asked about 4 demonstrators gave a mean answer of 6.4, while those asked about 12 demonstrators gave a mean of 8.9. This further supports the idea that post-event information effects following recall. In 1974 Loftus described a fabricated case to 50 students. A man and his granddaughter had been murdered during a robbery at a grocery store. On the evidence presented just 9 students thought the suspect was guilty. Yet, another group of 50 students was told that there was an eyewitness who could identify the suspect. 36 participants from this group said that the suspect was guilty. A third set of students was additionally told that the witness was not wearing his glasses during the crime and so was unlikely to have seen the suspects face clearly. This study emphasizes the Corall Ogugua. importance of finding out about the reliability of EWT. In 1980 Buckhout did this. He conducted a study with 2,000 participants, who were shown a 13 second film on prime-time TV. ...read more.

Conclusion

They found, for example, that people remember events better when given retrieval cues, which could be achieved in the police interview by mentally re-establishing the context of the event being recalled. They also found that police interviewers often asked questions out of sequential order and often shifted from modality to another. Such measures had the effect of restricting the available retrieval cues for witnesses to accurately recall a person or event. Geiselman et al. developed an interviewing technique called the cognitive interview, which was based on verified psychological principles regarding effective memory recall. Though there are some problems with this technique, it does have a tendency to produce more detailed and accurate information than a standard police interview. Overall, research has shown EWT to be very unreliable due to its accuracy. From looking at research by Loftus I feel that EWT is indeed undependable, and should therefore not be used as often as it is. However, Geiselman et al. have shown us a way in which we can improve it. Taking this into consideration, we are unable to come up with one single conclusion that states whether or not EWT deserves its frequent use and credibility. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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