Accuracy of eyewitness testimony:Misleading information (Evaluation…
Accuracy of eyewitness testimony:Misleading information
Leading questions experiment 1
Loftus and Palmer's (1974) laboratory experiment tested the effect of exposure to a leading question on memory for traffic accidents. 45 participants watched 7 film clips, answering a questionnaire after each film containing one critical question 'About how fast were teh cars going when they hit each other?' One group of participants recieved this question. The other four groups were given the verbs smashed, colided, bumped or contacted in place of the word hit.
The group exposed to the verb 'smashed' gave the highest mean rating. The contacted group gave the lowest. the verb leads to a certain answer.
Leading questions experiment 2
Loftus and Palmer (1974). Participants shown a 1-minute film clip of a car crash were asked about speed using the verb hit or smashed. A control group recieved no spedd question. One week later they were asked, 'Did you see any broken glass?' (correct answer no).
16 participants in the smashed group recalled seeing broken glass compared to 7 in the hit group. Those who thought the car was travelling faster might be more likely to think there would be broken glass.
Gabbert etal. (2003) showed pairs of particiapnts a different video of the saem event, exposing each person to unique items . In one condition pairs discussed what they had witnessed before recalling individually.
71% of witnesses who had discussed the event went on mistakenly recall items they could have learned only from discussion with their partner.
Each time a witness is interviewed, the interviewer's comments risk being incorporated into the witness' memory. The interviewer may unintentionally use leading questions which also have the potential od altering memories. This is a greater risk when interviewing child witnesses.
Misleading information can lead to false memories
College students, who had visited Disneyland as a child, evaluated adverts containing misinformation about Bugs Bunny or Ariel (both weren't present). Braun et al. (2002) found participants exposed to this misleading information were more likely to report meeting these characters than participants in a control group.
Real- world applications
Examples of exonerations of innocent people following DNA testing have confirmed research findings that the memories of eyewitnesses should be treated with caution to prevent wrongful convictions.
Laboratory experiments may not represent real-life experiences
Laboratory settings may not recreate the same level of importance and/ or emotions as real-life. When participants thought they were watching a real-life robbery and believed their statemants would be used in a trial, their identification of the perpetrator was more accurate (Foster et al. 1994).
Age differences in remembering sourced information
Schacter et al. (1991) found elderly people had more difficulty remembering the source of information than younger people, makingtheir EWTs more vulnerable to inaccuracies.
Response bias rather than storage
Participants were given questions that were either consistent or inconsistent with a scene viewed. When later asked questions in a different order those exposed to inconsistent questions showed less accurate recall of the scene. However, when questions were asked in the same order, no difference in accuracy was seen (Bekerian and Bowers, 1983).
Eyewitness testimony (EWT):
The evidence provided in court by a witness, with a view to identifying the perpetrator of the crime. The accuracy of witness recall may be affected during initial encoding, susequent storage and eventual retrieval.
a question that suggests to the witness what answer is desired or leads the witness to the desired answer.
Supplying the witness with information that may lead their memory of the crime to be altered and so reducing accuracy recall.
A conversation between co-witnesses or interviewer and witness after a crime has occurred. Details discussed may contaminate a witness' memories for the event.