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Factors that affect Eye-Witness Testimony
WJEC POTINETIAL question:
Memory was believed to be a fragment in the brain whereby we opened and viewed the contents.
However it can be re-shaped by our experiences, beliefs and expectations. These expectations are
based on schemas, the memory tries to fit the schema in order to make sense of the memory.
Or we may change the event with information from a stereotype.
Contradicting evidence as to whether it is the schema that changes the recall or the initial
Supportive evidence, Loftus and Palmer produced a study showing that leading questions
could affect people's recall of an event.
There is a cross-race affect, meaning we find it difficult to know the ethnicity of another sub-culture.
Elis et al found that we recognise the outline of someone's face shape and their hair when they are
unfamiliar to us however this develops to recognising eyes when we are more familiar with them. A
study showed that when noses were covered in a bank robbery they were less recognised than
those with their entire face free of mask.
Supportive evidence to suggest we find it very hard to recognise facial features.
It is possible to think you recognise a person's face, however recalling when is difficult as you
may have seen the face on a TV programme etc.
People tend to make a disposiontional attribution on someone caliming they are a criminal just
because they was in a situation. An alarm goes off, instead attributing they have left the tag on
people attribute they stole the item. Witnesses can then recall information that is incorrect based on
a dispositional attribution.
Supportive evidence (Barjonet 1980) found that an accident in driving causes people to
attribute the driver rather than driving conditions were bad.
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If the victim has to recall an event as a victim we tend to have a stronger disposiontal
The Role of Emotion
The attention of a weapon can either focus the attention or reduce it. There is evidence to show that
recall depends on how frightening the event was, the more frightening the more reduced the
attention of the event.…read more