The Reliability Of Eye Witness Testimony (Eyewitnesses Are Reliable ( Not…
The Reliability Of Eye Witness Testimony
Eyewitnesses Are Reliable
Not all research suggests that post-event information is misleading. Eyewitness recollection for central or key details may be more resilient to distortion.
When we experience shocking events, we create an accurate and long-term memory called a flashbulb memory. Hormones associated with emotion may enhance the storage of memories.
This suggests that the emotion surrounding the event may actually lead to more reliable memories.
Children between the ages of 6 and 7, and 10 and 11 are fairly accurate in their memories of an event and do not deliberately lie when giving testimony. Important details are not significantly altered by adult suggestion.
All age groups are most accurate when recognising an offender from their own age group. If the child witnesses had observed children committing staged crimes, they would be more reliable.
Eyewitnesses don't need to refer to their schemas. This means that the eyewitness's ability to identify the offender is likely to be reliable, even when the crimes are traumatic.
Eyewitnesses Are Not Reliable
Subtle changes in the wording used in questions can influence the recollection of the participant. This suggests that whenever a witness is questioned, their recollection of the event may be distorted.
Crimes are unexpected and emotionally traumatising. Freud argued that painful or threatening memories are forced into the unconscious mind, this process, repression, is an ego-defence mechanism.
Children are prone to fantasy and their memories may be affected by the suggestions made by others. Children under the age of 5 were less likely than older children and adults to make correct identifications but were more likely to make a choice in the target-absent condition. Children are seen to not be able to say "no" and choose to make a decision, in this case, a false positive.
Schemas may distort out memories during the recollection of an event. When we have to recall information, the expectations may have become incorporated into our memory, leading to inaccurate recall. Preconceived ideas about the facial features of criminals may influence us when making decisions. This suggests that eyewitnesses may not select the actual criminal, but the individual who looks most like a criminal.
Social And Economical Implications
1.Exonetated is a term used to describe people who have been found guilty of a crime, but are later found to be innocent.
Too much reliance on eyewitnesses can cause major ethical implications.
As eyewitnesses are a major source of information in any crime scene, it is important to pay some attention to the evidence.
Unreliable eyewitness has big costs in terms of retrials and compensation of the wrongly convicted.
The biggest implication for unreliable eyewitnesses is not financial, but rather the risk society faces as the real offender of the crime has been allowed to remain free.
Research has led us to be more critical of the recollection of eyewitnesses. As a result we have developed methods which mean eyewitness recollection is less susceptible to distortion, such as cognitive interviews.
Increasing CCTV systems means that the unreliability of eyewitnesses is likely to become less of a problem in the future.