eye witness testimony EWT


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EyeWitness Testimony
Anxiety: see mark scheme for Q.4 June 2009.
Discuss research into the way age of witness might affect the accuracy of eye witness
Outline Evaluation
There is a range of studies which support the Many of the studies in this area are
conclusion that both children and older people laboratory experiments, such as that of
have less accurate eyewitness recall than Parker and Carranza. They tend to lack
others. ecological validity as the set up is unlike real
life and there may be demand characteristics.
Parker and Carranza (1989) found that
children were more likely to make mistakes in Yarney's study is a field experiment, which
identifying a target individual from a series of increases the ecological validity but means
slides. This supports the view that up to a that control of variables was poor. For
certain point in childhood accuracy increases example, there was no control over who
with age. participated in the research.
Memon et al (2003) found that older The evidence of the studies is contradictory.
participants (6082) made more mistakes in a Although the weight of evidence is for poorer
recall task after a week compared to younger eye witness recall in children and older
participants, although in the short term their people, this cannot be taken to have been
recall was as good. conclusively demonstrated, especially
because of the limitations of research
Yarney (1993) stopped 651 participants on a methods.
shopping street after they had been talked to
briefly by a confederate. Accuracy of There are ethical issues in this research. The
memory did not vary over different age use of children in studies needs particular
ranges. care and the research relating to older people
might be considered socially sensitive, based
Anastasi and Rhodes (2006) found that on and confirming negative stereotypes.
participants were more able to recognise and
remember individuals from their own age This research has been usefully applied,, for
group as compared to another. This effect example in the use of specially trained police
has been explained by the differential officers to interview children to maximise
experience hypothesis which suggests that, accurate recall and in the importance of
as people tend to have more contact with having additional evidence in court cases in
their own age group, they develop a greater which a young child's testimony is key.
expertise in recognising and remembering
people in that age group.
Leading questions: This is tricky, because, in spite of its importance, the actual expression
does not appear on the Specification. This is probably why there has not been a question on it
so far. Any question might well have to be phrased in an unexpected way and so I will not
attempt an answer as it might be misleading. However, you do need to know the Loftus and
Palmer and related material!


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