Accuracy of EWT unfinished

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  • Accuracy of eyewitness testimony
    • Stages
      • Encoding: witness encodes details of event into LTM. May be partial/distorted.
      • Storage: witness retains info for period of time. Memories may be lost/modified/interfered with
      • Retrieval: witness retrieves memory from storage. Reconstruction of memory may effect accuracy
    • Miseading information
      • Leading questions: A question which suggests a certain answer because of the way it is phrased. Decreases accuracy of EWT e.g. 'Was the knife in the left hand?'
      • PED: Occurs when there is more than one witness to an event. Co-witnesses discuss what they have seen. May influence accuracy of each witnesses recall of the event.
      • Loftus&Palmer: 7 traffic accident films, 5-30s to five groups. IV= verb, DV= speed. 'Smashed' produced speeds of 40.8mph, 'Contacted' produced estimates of 31.8mph
      • Loftus&Palmer: 1 minute film of car driving, 4 seconds road traffic accident. IV= type of question. 'How fast when...hit'/'How fast when...smashed' DV=Yes/No broken glass. More likely 'yes' when asked 'smashed' question
      • Incorrect info given to witness post-event.
    • Anxiety
      • Unpleasant emotional state often accompanied by increased heart rate/rapid breathing
      • Weapon focus: Weapon distracts focus from details due to anxiety- reduces accuracy.
        • Johnson&Scott: Condition 1- friendly discussion, man with pen. Condition 2- argument, man with bloody knife. People witnessing peaceful scene 49% accurate recall. Condition 2 33% recall
      • Yerkes-Dodson effect: Too little anxiety decreases accuracy- do not feel need to be alert. Too much anxiety also decreases accuracy- difficult to focus on details. Moderate anxiety creates best recall.
        • Christiansen&Hubinette: enhanced recall from witnesses of bank robbery in Sweden. 75% accurate recall.
      • Evaluation
        • S: Lab experiments, more valid, controlled conditions, less PED. Real world application, police should prevent PED to reduce wrongful convictions.
        • W: Low EV, artificial environments, people behave differently. Difficult to replicate real emotions in lab. Pickel suggests surprise not anxiety. Ethical issues-, not appropriate to scare people for study.


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