Cognition & Law

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Cognition and law
Remembering and recognising faces
Processes involved in face recognition
Cohen distinguishes between:
Face recognition: knowing we have seen the face before
Face identification: Knowing the Person's name
Face recall: Verbally describing the face from memory
Bahrick found from his research that face recognition is better than face
identification and memory for faces fades away over time.
Explanations for face recognition
-Feature Analysis Theory
Bottom-up theory-Analysing individual features is key to face
Shephard found that most people describe individual features when
asked to recall faces they had never seen before
Ellis found that people describe external features when asked to recall
less familiar faces
Evaluating Feature analysis theory:
Feature analysis theory neglects other factors such as facial expressions
for face recognition
Tanaka and Farah found that individual features are harder to recognise
in isolation
Adding up individual facial features is essential for face recognition
Feature analysis theory does not explain why altering the configuration
of the face interferes with recognition. If the features are still there, and
recognition depends on features, then why does recognition take
-Holistic Form Theory
Top-down theory-Faces are recognised as a whole and recognition is more
complex than simply adding up individual features
Ellis argues that we have a stored template for each face we know, hence
when presented with the face we try to match the stimulus with the stored
Yin found that recognition takes longer when faces are presented upside
Tanaka and Farah found that recognising individual features in isolation is

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Bruce and Young argue that stored semantic and emotional information is
important for face recognition.…read more

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Many studies and evidence supports holistic form theory
Young's study consisting of keeping diaries explains why people know
certain information about people but cannot remember their name
Theory acknowledges that recognition is much more complex than just
adding up features
First Generation
Early systems
Paper based
Second Generation
Computer based
Photo ­ fit
Witness operates the system
Third generation
Computer based
Expert operates the system
Aim: Investigating the usefulness of early composite systems
Method: Participants had…read more

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Evaluating composite systems for construction of likeness:
The study is not ecologically valid as the people in the study had to recall
the faces of people they probably already knew, we know in real life this is
not the case as people do not get enough time to observe a criminals face
and they do not recall a face they are already familiar with
Computer based composite systems are easily amendable and are less time
consuming to produce
Computer based systems store wider ranges of…read more

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Results: Witnesses were more likely to identify the suspect correctly in
sequential line-ups than is simultaneous line-ups
Conclusion: Sequential line-ups reduce the number of false identification
Factors affecting the outcome of line-up procedures
Appearance of the suspect:
The appearance of all the suspects in the line-up has to match with the real
suspect in order to make identification reliable
Demand characteristics:
Police officer carrying out the identification procedure is likely to have an
effect on the witness's ability to make an unbiased identification
When…read more

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Post-event contamination:
Witness's memory is altered after the event either by questioning or through
discussion.…read more

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Results: In the experimental group, 17% reported seeing a barn while less
than 3% in the control group made this error
Conclusion: Participants can be influenced by the wording of the question as a
non-existing item was inserted into their memory
Aim: Investigating the influence of discussion on memory for events
Method: Two groups of participants were shown a series of story pictures
about a woman stealing a man's wallet.…read more

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Participants were tested on
their recall on critical events that had occurred in the video seconds before the
actual shooting scene.…read more

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Conclusion: A weapon being present can cause poorer recall among
eyewitnesses as they get fixated on the weapon
Aim: Investigating the effectiveness of the cognitive interview
Method: Participants viewed a video of a violent crime. After 48 hours they
were interviewed using either the cognitive interview, standard interview or
an interview using hypnosis.…read more

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Method: Children participated in a science demonstration; they were later
interviewed about the events that occurred during the demonstration. 3
months later, the children were told a story about a science demonstration
that they had not witnessed. The children were interviewed again testing their
recall from what they remember from the actual demonstration that they did
Results: when tested immediately the children were able t recall accurately
without any confusion.…read more


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