Factors affecting EWT: Misleading information & Post Event Discussion

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  • Factors affecting EWT: Misleading information & Post Event Discussion
    • LOFTUS AND PALMER: To investigate the effect of leadning verbs on eyewitness accounts of a car crash.
      • All pps watched a film in which two cars crashed into each other, they were then randomly allocated to one of 5 groups and asked 'how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?' Other groups were given other verbs.
        • Smashed: 40.8 MPH, Contacted: 31.8 MPH
          • This study shows that the type of question asked has an effect on EWT to a question and their memory of an incident. EWT can be inaccurate due to leading questions.
    • GABBERT ET AL: Put pps into pairs and individually, each pp watched a video of the same crime from different views, each pp could see elements of the crime that the other could not, they both then discussed what they saw before a recall test
      • 71% of pps mistakrnly recalled aspects of the event they did not see in the video but had picked up the discussion compared to 0% in the control group.
        • Such results highlight that post-event discussion can lead to inaccurate eyewitness testimony
    • Both studies were carried out in a lab setting. The task was unrepresentative of real life therefore pps may not take it as seriously or be as emotionally aroused if it was a real accident. Therefore making it hard to apply the results to real life EWT.
    • Lab setting: pps more likely to show demand characteristics becuase they have more chance of guessing the aim of the study. There therefore may be a change in their behaviour in a way that suits what they think the researcher wants or goes against it- making it less valid and true to real life.
      • It could be argued that real life witnesses feel pressured to perform by the police officer questioning them and therefore this is a replication of real life.
    • The sample of the studies are unrepresentative, they used all American college students who may be more susceptible to misleading info and leading questions. Therefore making results harder to generalise to other populations for example full time British adults who may be less affected by misleading info.
    • A strength of research is the implications the research has for real world EWT, especially whrn the consequences can be serious. Research into midleading questions and post-event discussions has highlighted the importance of ensuring EW memories are not distorted. Therefore police are now aware of how to phrase questions and are careful when interviewing eye witnesses.


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