• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline and evaluate the accuracy of eyewitness testimony

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Outline and evaluate the accuracy of eye witness testimony Loftus and Palmer investigated how eye witness testimonies can be distorted. They were interested in seeing how misleading questions affected eyewitness testimony and conducted a lab experiment. In the experiment, 45 students were shown clips of traffic accidents and were then asked a question about how fast the car was going. The participants were then either given the verb hit, smashed, contacted, collided or bumped. The findings were that, the bump with smashed estimated the highest speed, while the group that were given the word contacted guessed the lowest speed, suggesting that leading questions have a huge effect on memory and the accuracy of people?s memories of an event. The independent variable was the verbs changed for each group?s critical question, and the dependant variable was the speed estimates given by participants. Loftus and Palmer?s study shows successfully shows the negative effect misleading questions have on eye witness testimony and has many benefits, including it can provide a useful insight for the police when interviewing witnesses, as it shows the effect of using leading questions and shoes they should be aware of the way they phrase their questions to ensure the memory of the witness isn't distorted in any way. The experiment was fairly accurate as it was a controlled labatory experiment, meaning it can be easily replicated, as any clips used can be easily used again with another of participants, allowing another researcher to check the consistency of results. ...read more.


The experiment also has low population validity, as the participants were 45 psychology university students and this is unrepresentative as not only students will witness car accidents. A person of a different age group may be either more or less alert, which could cause them to give a different answer. Also, the group of students might be less experienced drivers than the general population, so therefore might be less confident in their ability to estimate speed. This may have led them to be affected by the words used in the questions they were asked. This means the results lacks generalisiabilty. The results could be easily to generalized, but possibly only to students as only students were used; however it would be unrepresentative to generalize to other age groups and occupations. Yuille and Cutshall (1986) wanted to investigate the accuracy in recall of eyewitnesses to a real crime, in response to leading questions and over time. In this study, the crime was a real gun shooting. They wanted to look at the problems of laboratory research in studying eyewitness testimony, to look at the accuracy of eyewitness accounts and to compare eyewitness accounts taken straight after an incident with those taken four to five months after. Another aim was to see how eyewitness memory could be affected by leading questions. ...read more.


However, the study is said to lack generalisability as the case is unique and is a field study, assessing a small sample of real witnesses and it would be difficult to find one naturally occurring again. The results could?ve been because of a case of ?flashbulb memory?. This suggests that certain events are remembered in more detail and usually and because this was such a traumatic experience for some participants, this might be why they are able to remember what happened so clearly. This explains how those who were closer and more involved in the even remembered more details correctly and were found to be more reliable. However, there is little evidence for flashbulb memory?s as a distinct memory process and even though they might feel accurate, they are just as prone to forgetting & change as other memories. However, because the study was a field experiment, Yuille and Cutshall had weak control over extraneous variables, so more variables could've become confounding variables in the experiment, affecting the outcome. It would've been much harder to control confounding variables in the experiment, meaning the independant variable might not have even caused the changed in the dependant variable. For example, the age of the participants could?ve affected the experiment, because some older people who were taking part in the experiment might?ve not been that alert, affecting how much attention they paid to the incident and their memory and ability to recall what happened. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Cognitive Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Cognitive Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Measurements of Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimonies

    4 star(s)

    (1996), 193 subjects were asked if they saw the plane hit the building. Astonishingly, 55% said that they had seen the crash, and 59% claimed that the fire started immediately on impact. A follow-up study showed that 68% of subjects said that they had seen the crash, and 67% said

  2. Free essay

    Correlation between age and sleep

    This means that some participants could be more aware of the real purpose of the study than others. This could unconsciously affect participants' behavior (demand characteristic). Also they could manipulate the record, either time of sleep or an age. 4.4.

  1. Describe the application of behaviorist perspectives in health and social care. Describe the application ...

    Intellectually a person will be able to think for themselves and decipher thing that are possible and exist at present. Emotion development would include the individual become more emotional independent by controlling there own emotions. There social development will include their decision making in what role they will take and also career they will embark on in their life.

  2. Outline and evaluate the research into eyewitness testimony.

    They interviewed witnesses to a real life shooting. Some witnesses has seen the incident close, while some from further away. The findings from this study were that those who were closer gave a more accurate account, and those who were closest provided more detail. Also, misleading questions had no effect on accuracy and those who were distressed at the time proved most accurate 5 months later.

  1. Memory's Impact

    However it can be taken into account that Bradley and Baddeley found a repression effect as the retention period in the experiment was up to 28 days, which found emotional words to be better recalled than neutral words. This shows emotional words to impact memory and leave a lasting effect over time, this supports the hypothesis of the study.

  2. Memory and Eyewitness Testimony

    Williams found that 38% of women has no recall for the s****l abuse and of those that did recall it, 16% said that they had repressed it at some time. Abuse at an earlier age was most likely to be forgotten.

  1. Report on Psychological Research into Eyewitness Testimony

    Jim, that he had been lost in a mall at the age of five. Just two days after being told of this false event for the first time, Chris was able to recall the "memory" in great detail. He was reported by Jim to have said, "That day I was so scared I would never see my family again.

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

    As they only watched video clips of the car crashes and did not witness them first hand, it could have affected their response. The studies were also criticised for being ethnocentric, as American students were used only, so the findings of the experiments were not necessarily generalisable to the population

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work