I have mentioned about memory

There are factors that influence EWT these include: Race – When the suspect and witness are racially different errors are more likely to occur. We can recognise people more when they are members of your own racial groups. (Brigham and Malpass 1985) Clothing – Witnesses pay more attention to a suspect’s clothing rather than their characteristics e.g. height. Criminals are aware this as they change what they wear in a line up. (Brigham and Malpass 1985)

Social influence – one factor is when witnesses exchange what they saw e.g. Memon and Wright describe a study when pairs were asked if they had seen a car at the scene of the crime. If the 1st person said yes the 2nd person was more likely to say yes as well. Misleading questions and suggestibility – when misleading information is given reconstructive errors in recall occur. Age – can play a part in the accuracy of recall. In some studies children are known to give fewer details than adults do. Older people may also recall less than younger people (List 1986) may

Stress – the levels of stress experienced when witnessing a crime can also affect accuracy of recall. Yerkes Dobson law shows this. Event factors such as exposure time – the length of time a witness is exposed to an event. It was shown by Ebbinghaus (1885) the longer were exposed to something the better perception of it is and Detail salience – for example in an armed robbery the witness focused on the gun not the man’s characteristics. The gun is seen as a salient feature as it distracts the witness’s attention to the more important things.

Loftus and Palmer (1974) carried out an experiment where they showed a collision of two cars colliding. Participants were then asked how fast the car was going when they hit? Other participants were asked the same question but instead of the word hit, smashed, collided, bumped and contacted were replaced. The average speed for the word hit was 34mph but the highest was the word smashed at 40.8mph and the lowest was the word contacted at 31.8mph. The word had influenced the witnesses. Loftus and Palmer (1974) followed up this experiment by asking the same participants if broke glass were present at the scene. The participants who were asked the question with smash in it 32% said yes compared with only 14% with the word hit. These results support the memory-as-reconstruction explanation.

The effect ‘after-the-event’ information is supported by Loftus (1975). Participants were grouped A and B. Group A were asked how fast the white sports car was going when it passed the stop sign? Whereas groups B were asked how fast the car was going when it passed the barn? Both groups watched the same video. The stopped sign had appeared on the video but the barn hadn’t. One week later they were asked if there was a barn in the video. Out of group A only 2.7% said yes whilst 17.3% in-group B said yes. Misleading again. The most popular explanation for suggestibility effects is source misattribution. Memories of details from various sources can be combined with memories of that event (memory blending).

Video-witness testimony is a special case of EWT. In most shops and banks now have CCTV this can be very useful and could prove vital to a crime as the criminal is captured on video. But Bruce (1998) has investigated face recognition and memory for 25 years. Evidence suggests that rather subtle pictorial differences are difficult for human vision to deal with. The quality of the CCTV camera may prove vital:  Camera and lighting angles many only provide poor lit messy image of the top or back of someone’s head. Judging different images of the same individual may be prone to error.

CCTV images are extremely useful when the person shown is known to the witness but when an unfamiliar face occurs it is extremely difficult to find the right person. According to Harrower (1998) we remember faces that are nothing like the suspect but ones we have in our heads as criminals. This is another example of a schema. According to Loftus and Bartlett EWT is not reliable but some people argue this. EWT can be very useful, as it has caught a lot of suspects but at the same time it has caught a few innocent suspects! The legal system should improve the use of EWT. They should definitely get rid of misleading questions and lawyers should not be allowed to ask false questions and this is playing tricks with the human memory.

EWT is not reliable by itself it needs evidence to back it up. In my opinion identity parades are dangerous for example a little old woman might be asked to pick out of 5 black men wearing exactly the same she really hasn’t got a clue so she might just pick at random or use a schema. I certainly wouldn’t take part in one just in case I was picked. CCTV is a good idea in my opinion there should be more of them as they catch a lot of suspect’s e.g. a lot of shoplifters.

The government should be aware of all these things I have mentioned about memory. Memory can be very useful and is a major part of every human being. Memory can remember things at the scene of the crime. But do we know if these things we remember are correct as schemas and the concept of the world around us can interfere. Over time the information could decay and vital evidence to a crime might fade away if not caught in time. The government should only use EWT when necessary but for major court cases there should be a lot more evidence to back it up

Elizabeth Loftus is one of the leading researchers in Eyewitness testimony with her being more interested in what happens to memory after a particular event rather than before it. In a typical experiment participants are shown a film or slides …

With regard to the extent of psychological research which supports the view concerning the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, a number of judgements can be made. Firstly, one can refer to a study carried out by Loftus and Palmer in 1974, …

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) designed the multi-store model of memory suggesting that we have three different memory stores and that information must be rehearsed and encoded to move through each stage, the long-term memory having the largest capacity and where …

Memory has been the focus of psychology research since the beginning of psychology. Investigators have focused on the structure of memory and factor that aid or inhibit the ability to store and retrieve information. Bower’s research (1972) found that that …

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