eyewitness testimony

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Eyewitness testimony
EWT involves witnessing a crime and then using memory of events as evidence.
Witnesses are often confident, but this confidence might have no effect on the
accuracy of the testimony. Using DNA evidence, it has been possible to show that
some people that have been convicted on the basis of EWT were in fact, innocent.
One study found that five of them were on death row.
Loftus and Palmer's study
1st study
Methods of research
Involved 45 participants who were shown 7 video clips of traffic accidents
Participants asked to write an account of each accident and to answer some
When asked a question about the speed, the wording for the question was
changed, by changing the same word five times. The question was "about how
fast were the cars going when they..........each other?" the missing word could
be smashed, collided, bumped, hit or smashed. They were asked this question
straight away after seeing the videos.
They found that the wording of the questions changes the estimation of
speed given by the participants.
The word `smashed' caused the participants to rate the speed highest at
The word `contacted' caused participants to rate the speed at its lowest at
2nd study
3 groups of participants watched videos of car crashes.
One group of participants were asked "how fast was the car going when it
smashed into the other cars?"
One week later, the participants were asked, "did you see any broken
glass?" participants in this condition were more likely to say yes to that
question. This shows that the word `smashed' altered the memory of the
crime that took place.

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Good because they used videos that reduced amounts of distress caused by
the experiment on the participants.
Ecological validity
Bad because they used videos that reduced amounts of distress felt by the
Internal validity
Good because they only changed one thing, the words in the questions that
were used, so they know that the change in the words was the real reason
for the results they got, not any demand characteristics etc.…read more


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