Eye Witness Testimony Studies

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  • Eye Witness Testimony Studies
    • Anxiety
      • Loftus
        • Used two conditions;
          • In condition one the participants overheard a low key discussion about equipment failure in a laboratory. A person emerged from the laboratory holding a pen with grease on his hands
            • In the second condition the participants overheard a heated and hostile argument in the laboratory. After the sound of breaking glass and crashing chairs, a man emerged holding a paper knife with his hands covered in blood
              • Participants were then shown 50 photographs and were asked to identify the man who emerged from the room
                • Participants in the first condition accurately identified the person 49% of the time. Participants in the second condition accurately identified the person 33% of the time
      • Loftus and Burns
        • Showed participants a violent of non-violent short film
          • Those who saw the violent film where a boy was shot in the face were less accurate with their recall of information about the crime than those who saw the non-violent film
            • The finding from Loftus's research is called Weapon Focus. The witness concentrates on the weapon and this distracts attention from the appearance of the perpetrator Loftus concluded that the fear or anxiety brought about by the sight of the weapon narrows the focus and gives rise to very accurate recall to the central details but less of the peripheral details
      • Christianson and Hubinette
        • Questioned 58 real witnesses to bank robberies
          • Witnesses were either on-lookers present at the time or bank staff who were directly threatened by the robbers
            • Witnesses who had been threatened in some way were more accurate in their recall than those who hadn't
              • This superior recall continued to be evident, even after a 15 month interval
    • Misleading Information
      • Loftus and Palmer
        • Investigated the effect of participants hearing different words when asked about their memory of a car crash
          • Participants were shown a 30 second video clip of two cars colliding. They were then asked the question 'how fast were the cars going when.....'. All of the participants were asked the same question but with a different very ending on the sentance
            • The conditions were; smashed, collided, hit, bumped and contacted. In addition, a week later the participants were asked if they had seen any broken glass on the floor when in fact, there was no broken glass
              • The average estimated speed rose as the strength of the verb increased. For smashed it was 41mph, collided 39mph, hit 38mph, bumped 34mph and contacted was 32mph
                • As a separate finding 32% of participants said yes to seeing broken glass if they were in the smashed condition and 14% said yes if they were in the hit condition
      • Yuille and Cutshall
        • Interviewed 13 witnesses to an attempted robbery of a gun shop in Vancouver where the owner of the shop shot and killed the robber
          • Four months later the witness accounts remained highly accurate and were not affected by misleading information
    • Age
      • Parker and Carranza
        • Found primary school children were less likely to correctly identify a criminal than college students
          • Participants were asked to identify a target individual following a slide sequence of a mock crime. In the photo identification task child witnesses had a higher rate of choosing somebody and they were more likely to make errors of identification than the college students
      • Anastasi and Rhodes
        • Used individuals from three target groups (18-25) (35-45) (55-78) who were shown 24 photographs representing the three different age groups which they had to rate for attractiveness
          • After a short filler activity they were then presented with 48 photographs, 24 of which they had seen before and 24 acted as distractors
            • Corrected recognition rates (hits minus false) found that young and middle-aged participants were more accurate than the older participants but all age groups were more accurate in identifying photographs from their own age groups


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