Outline and evaluate research (theories and/or studies) into eyewitness testimony

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Outline and evaluate research (theories and/or studies) into eyewitness testimony (18 marks)

Eyewitness testimony investigates the accuracy of memory following a crime or an incident worth interrogating and the types of errors made in such situations. Sometimes eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, which can lead to horrific consequences in a court of law for example, hence many Psychologists have studied and theorized why this happens.

One leading researcher on Eyewitness testimony is Elizabeth Loftus and her colleagues, in 1975, participants were shown an event by film of a car crash, the participants were split into 2 groups and ask questions on what they had just seen, Group 1 were asked questions that were consistent with the incident, while Group 2, were given same question except one, which was misleading (involving a barn). A week later participants were ask another ten questions, and the last question ask did they see a barn (which was not in the incident). Only 2.7 % gave the incorrect answer and in-group 2 17.3% gave the incorrect answer.  Loftus concluded that the introduction of the barn in the first misleading question was now recalled as part of the original event. Elizabeth performed a further study (1978) on eyewitness testimony and found the same thingy, also that the effect of the misleading question became more prominent over time.

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Evan though the misleading question introduces new information which in added to the event, not every one actually incorporated it, only 17.3% did, the other 82.7% were unaffected. However, without this research we would not know that memory can be altered by misleading information. Loftus can be criticized on her method of testing recall, people remember things more correctly, if the questions were asked in a logical order, different techniques have been found to help lower the chances of incorrect information such as the Cognitive Interview technique. One point which lowers the credibility of Loftus’s studies is that they ...

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